How to make a bee hotel

How to make a bee hotel

Follow our step-by-step guide to making a bee hotel for solitary bees, including where to site it and how to care for your bees.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do To do in January

Do To do in February

Do To do in March

Do To do in April

Do To do in May

Do To do in June

Do To do in July

Do To do in August

Do To do in September

Do To do in October

Do To do in November

Do To do in December

A bee hotel makes the perfect nesting site for female solitary bees, including red mason bees and leafcutter bees. These solitary bees are not aggressive and are highly unlikely to sting. Unlike social bees like bumblebees and honeybees, solitary bees nest individually, laying eggs in hollow stems such as bamboo, teasel and sunflower stems.

How to make a bee hotel

Make a wooden box and fill it with hollow stems such as old flower stalks or bamboo canes, which you have dried thoroughly and cut to size. Ideally, holes should vary in diameter between 2mm and 10mm, to attract the widest range of species.

Site your bee hotel in a sunny spot, ideally so it gets the morning sun. To reduce the risk of fungal infections and predators, take down your bee hotel every autumn and store it in a cool, dry location such as your shed. Replace the hollow stems with fresh ones every spring, as soon as the new adults have emerged.

More on gardening for bees:

Follow our step-by-step guide to making a bee hotel, below.

Advertisement

You Will Need

  • A plank of untreated wood or ply at least 10cm wide
  • Hollow stems such as reeds, bamboo canes or old flower stems
  • Wood saw
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Secateurs
  • A mirror fixing for hanging the hotel

Step 1

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.

How to make a bee hotel - cutting the wood to size
How to make a bee hotel – cutting the wood to size

Step 2

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.

How to make a bee hotel - sawing the bamboo stems to size
How to make a bee hotel – sawing the bamboo stems to size

Step 3

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.

How to make a bee hotel - filling the box with hollow stems
How to make a bee hotel – filling the box with hollow stems
Advertisement

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.

Kate Bradbury