Get busy and make a bee hotel
It's the perfect time to help the bee population thrive in your garden. Bees are essential to our ecosystem as they help flowers and fruit pollinate. Building a bee hotel will help your garden look blooming beautiful whilst helping maintain a healthy bee population.
Posted on 20th May 2021
Bee hotels come in all shapes and sizes and building one (or more) is a simple, fun craft and is a great way to help your children become interested in the natural world around them.
This craft is for the solitary bees, as unlike bumblebees and honeybees, they do not make colonies or live in a hive. In fact, experts believe that there are around 275 different species of bee in the country, with the vast majority made up of solitary bees they form a very important part of the pollination network.
To make a bee hotel, you’ll need a few items, such as a plank of wood that’s (10 centimetres wide), lots of hollow canes or stems of different diameters (ideally these need to be between three and 10 millimetres for the different sizes of bee), a saw, some secateurs, a drill and screws or a hammer and some nails.
Building your hotel:
1. Saw or cut your plank of wood into five sections. Four of these sections will form the rectangle ‘box’ where you will add your stems next. You can drill and screw the four parts together to form a box or keep it simple and use a hammer and nails. Once competed, take your spare piece of wood, and attach it to the frame so it forms the back board.
2. Take your secateurs and cut your stems into the lengths that will fit your frame. Ideally, they should be a millimetre or so shorter, so they do not stick out of the frame. This protects them from the rain. Bramble, reed or bamboo canes are best for the stems.
3. Lay your frame on a flat or tilted surface and start to add the stems. It doesn’t matter too much if some are slightly longer than the others as at this stage, as we want to make sure that it’s a tight fit. The more stems you add to the space the more they will lock tightly together.
4. Once you’ve added all of the stems and you’re happy with the result, now is the time to either hang it up or place it somewhere where it is off of the ground (so the bees are safe from predators) and where there is a lot of sunlight. If you don’t have a suitable place, then you can build up some stones or bricks and sit it on top.
Now sit back and see if any solitary bees decide to move into their new home. If they do, the females will lay their eggs inside the stems. The egg is sealed up in a cell, which is made from a small amount of mud, and each one is left pollen which the grub will eat when it hatches. Some stems can house up to seven cells and before long you’ll see the young bees emerge.
Discover our top tips and some interesting facts about bees
Did you know that different species of bumblebees have different tongue lengths which means they need to feed from different shaped flowers? Or that honeybees have shorter tongues so they like saucer shaped flowers?
Did you know that honeybees visit flowers for two purposes? One, to collect pollen, which is used to feed the brood, and two, to collect nectar that’s then turned into honey to feed the colony over the winter months.
Did you know that large shrubs and trees are a food source as well? Just five established winter/spring flowering trees, such as hawthorns or apple trees, supply a similar amount of pollen and nectar as an acre of meadow.
Plant an array of flowers, from pansies to foxgloves, to help feed the pollinators.
Clumps of bee friendly plants in sunny spots are more attractive to them than shady or scattered plant areas.
Do not plant hybridized plants or double or multi-petalled flowers as they usually lack pollen and/or nectar.