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How to build a bee hotel

Why bees need our support

Bee populations have been decreasing over the last few decades due to a combination of factors, including habitat loss, pesticide use, disease, and climate change. 

By providing a home for bees, you can help to support their populations and increase their chances of survival. This is especially important for solitary bee species, which don’t live in colonies like honeybees, and are often overlooked in conservation efforts.

A solitary mason bee.

Bee hotels can be a helpful way to support bee populations by providing a safe and cosy place for them to live and breed. Bee hotels are essentially artificial nesting sites that mimic the natural nesting habitats of wild bees. By building a bee hotel, you can help to provide a home for bees in areas where natural nesting sites are scarce or have been destroyed.

Share your bee hotels with us on social media and you could win some wildflower seeds, a flower press, plus a whole square metre of wildflowers that we will plant for you! Tag us on social media @mysquaremetreuk on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or Facebook to be in with a chance to win.

Bee hotel building instructions

Building a bee hotel is a fun and easy project that can make a real difference to your local ecosystem. Not only will it provide a cosy home for our buzzing friends, but it will also help to increase the population of these important pollinators. Here’s a step-by-step guide to building your own bee hotel.

Step 1: Gather your materials

To build a bee hotel, you’ll need some basic materials that you can find easily at most gardening supply or DIY shops, or sourced second-hand. You can even take some materials from your own garden, or local wild areas (always get permission if it’s not your land). You’ll need:

  • A wooden box or crate
  • Bamboo canes or hollow plant stems
  • Twigs, sticks, dry leaves & grasses, and other natural materials
  • A saw
  • Sandpaper
  • String or wire
All the tools and supplies you need to build a bee hotel.

Step 2: Prepare your wooden box

Start by preparing your wooden box or crate. Choose a size that suits your needs – it can be as big or as small as you like. Make sure that the box is made from untreated wood and free of any chemical residues. Sand down any rough edges to prevent splinters. It doesn’t have to be square or rectangular- other shapes are fine too.

Step 3: Make your bee hotel tubes

Bamboo tubes in a bee hotel.

Next, you’ll need to make your bee hotel tubes. These are the little homes that the bees will live in. Take your bamboo canes or plant stems and use a saw to cut them into sections that are around 15cm long. Make sure that the ends are flat and even, so that the bees can easily crawl in and out. Be aware – bees can’t burrow through the knots in bamboo, so avoid canes with too many knots.

Step 4: Fill your bee hotel

Now it’s time to fill your bee hotel. Take your wooden box and fill it with the bamboo canes or plant stems. Try to fill the box as tightly as possible, so that the tubes don’t move around too much. Make sure the canes point downwards slightly to avoid them filling with rain. If you are feeling handy, you can build a small roof from wood – this will protect your resident bees from rain even more effectively.

Step 5: Add natural materials

To make your bee hotel even more inviting, add some natural materials like twigs, sticks, and dry leaves around the tubes. This will give the bees some extra places to hide and make the hotel feel more like a cosy home. Use this extra material to fill any small gaps and keep your tubes securely in place.

Step 6: Hang your bee hotel

Finally, you’ll need to hang your bee hotel in a suitable location. Choose a spot that is sheltered from the wind and rain, preferably in a sunny spot, facing south. Hang it securely using string or wire attached to a tree or other structure.

A bee hotel hung on the side of a tree.

Congratulations, you’ve just built your very own bee hotel! Now all that’s left to do is wait for the bees to move in. Be patient, as it may take a little while for the bees to find their new home. But once they do, you’ll be rewarded with the sight of these fascinating creatures buzzing in and out of their little tubes. 

Check your bee hotel once a year for signs of mould, and replace any rotten material or bamboo tubes.

Other ways to help the bees

In addition to building bee hotels, there are other ways that you can support bee populations, such as by planting bee-friendly flowers and avoiding the use of pesticides in your garden. By taking these small steps, you can help to support these important pollinators and ensure that they continue to play a vital role in our ecosystem.

Each square metre of wildflowers planted by My Square Metre helps to provide food for 12 bees for life! Our wildflowers also help to sequester carbon dioxide in the soil and provide a habitat for other wildlife. If you would like us to plant a square metre for you, just go here.

Remember, if you build your own bee hotel, share your photos with us on social media for a chance to win some great prizes!

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