A bee hotel is a collection of hollow stems and wood arranged in a container for solitary bees to nest in.


There are many species of solitary bee, ranging from hairy-footed flower bees to red mason and leafcutter bees. Solitary wasp species will use bee hotels, too.

Different species nest at different times of year but they start emerging from late-February to March, and continue into autumn. Not all species nest in bee hotels but many common species will, if the habitat is provided for them.

The bees don't mind what it looks like, as long as it's in dry, especially in winter, and in full sun they'll be perfectly at home. Replace the hollow stems each year in late spring, once the new adults have emerged.

In this No Fuss video guide, BBC Gardeners' World Magazine wildlife expert, Kate Bradbury, demonstrates some of the different types of bee hotel available, from DIY versions that cost a few pounds to make to deluxe shop-bought versions, complete with viewing chambers and release chambers. She also looks at pre-drilled bricks, perfect if you're adding an extension to your home:

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More on bees and bee hotels:

Find nine ideas for bee hotels, below.

Wood and hollow stems

Simple wooden bee hotel with hollow bamboo stems
A small wooden bee hotel showing some hollow stems occupied and sealed with pieces of leaf by leafcutter bees

This hotel comprises a bit of tree bark attached to a wooden frame, with gaps filled by hollow stems. Note the cells in use by leafcutter bees – they have been sealed with pieces of leaf.

Feature bee hotels

Chelsea Flower Show garden bee hotel focal point
A Chelsea Flower Show feature bee hotel comprising varieties of materials in circular containers on a stylish wall

This Chelsea Flower Show exhibit is made using a variety of materials including bricks and ivy stems, arranged in circular containers on the side of a wall. Together the containers create a striking focal point

Bee hotel with green roof

Bee hotel with green roof
A bee hotel of hollow stems packed beneath an overhanging roof planted with sempervivums

This bee hotel displayed at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2011, has a stylish green roof on top. The slight lip on the roof helps to keep the hollow stems dry, which is essential to reduce the risk of infections affecting the eggs and larvae. Sitting atop a post, this can be popped in a sunny border.

Hollow stems en masse

Hollow bamboo stems used en masse to create a bee hotel
A mass of aligned hollow bamboo stems, some sealed by red mason bees

Hundreds of bamboo stems collected together can look fantastic, especially when they have been sealed up by red mason bees. You can create simple wooden frames in all sorts of shapes and sizes to hold the stems, so it's a good chance to test your creativity.

Bee hotel posts

Posts supporting a variety of bee hotels, amongst flowering plants
Posts supporting a variety of bee hotels, amongst flowering plants

These stylish bee hotels on posts are made using a variety of materials, and can be found at the London Wetland Centre in Barnes. They're surrounded with lots of plants that will provide pollen and nectar, so the bees needn't travel far.

Pallets and roof tiles

Thrifty tips - using pallets to make a bug hotel
Bee and bug shelter made from old bricks, tiles and wood, plus twigs and fir cones

This bug shelter has endless possibilities for bees and other insects. Many of the materials are things you might have lying around or can gather from the garden, including old tiles, twiggy material and logs with holes drilled in.

Bee hotel in dry-stone wall

Drystone wall in garden with bee hotels incorporated into the structure
Wooden bee hotel inserts in a dry stone wall topped with sempervivums

This sleek bee hotel is incorporated into a stylish dry-stone wall with sedum and sempervivum planting. Different hole sizes help to attract species with varying requirements.

Box filled with wood

Picture frame-style bee hotel with drilled logs and hollow stems
Bee hotel made in a wooden box from branches with holes drilled into their ends, packed around with hollow stems

This picture frame-style bee hotel is filled with wood and other materials making the perfect home for a variety of bee species. Holes have been drilled into the end of old logs, while the gaps between logs have been filled with a variety of hollow stems from plants like fennel and sunflowers.

Bee hotel with slate roof

Bee hotel on post with slate roof
A slate-roofed bee hotel on a post

For a touch of class, add a slate roof to your bee hotel, to protect the contents from rain. As it sits on a post, this bee hotel is easy to site in sunny beds and borders.

Siting your bee hotels

When siting your bee hotels, make sure they're placed in direct sun and that the 'burrows' run horizontally.
Bee hotel