How to make a bee hotel

Kate Bradbury takes you through the easy process of creating a bee hotel for species of solitary bees.

Do it:

Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec

Takes just:

one hour

Give beneficial pollinating insects a home by making a bee hotel. The female of the non-aggressive mason bee species lays eggs in hollow stems such as bamboo, teasel and sunflower stems. So why not make a bee hotel for her in which she can lay her eggs? Collect old flower stalks or bamboo canes, follow our simple steps and you could be watching the fascinating insects in your garden this summer. Ideally, holes should vary in diameter between 2mm and 10mm, to attract the widest range of species.

You will need

  • A plank of untreated wood or ply at least 10cm wide
  • A plentiful supply of hollow stems such as reeds, bamboo canes or old flower stems
  • Wood saw, drill, screws and secateurs
  • A mirror fixing for hanging the hotel

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Cut the plank into four pieces to make a rectangular frame for the bee hotel. Drill guide holes for the screws and assemble the frame as if making a box. Paint the wood if you would like to and allow to dry.

Use secateurs or a saw to cut your stems to the same depth as the box. A saw is preferable to secateurs for thicker stems as the stems are less likely to split. Sand away any rough edges.

Carefully pack the frame of the bee hotel with the stems – only as you add the final few does the whole lattice lock solid. Hang your bee hotel on a sunny wall, sheltered from the rain, and wait for the mason bees to investigate it in the spring.

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Kate Bradbury

Kate Bradbury says

Leafcutter bees typically use rose, beech and wisteria leaves to seal the individual brood cells in the hollow stems. Why not give them a helping hand by growing these plants in your garden? You’ll quickly see when your hotel is in use as you’ll spot bees carrying pieces of leaf to seal their brood cells.

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