Do you love hearing the hum of bees buzzing around your garden? Learn how to make a bee hotel to provide the bees that frequent your garden a safe place to live and raise their young.
What is a bee hotel?
A bee hotel is a structure you place in your garden with the idea that it gives native solitary bees a place to rest and breed. Nearly all of Australia’s 1,700 native bee species are solitary and can be found in most parts of Australia. Unlike honeybees which live in hives, native bees are solitary and nest in tiny hollows and nooks safely away from predators. They don’t store honey in their nests and only collect small amounts of nectar to feed their young. The most known Australian native bee species include Blue Banded, Teddy Bear, Leafcutter, Carpenter, and Resin Bees.
What you need to make a bee hotel
- Dry hollow stems such as reeds, bamboo stems, and untreated logs with drill holes varying in size.
- Hardwood timber or plywood
- Nails or screws
How to make a bee hotel
- Cut hardwood timber in 4 x 200 mm by 150 mm by 10 mm, and 1 x backing board 200 mm by 5mm to fit your box dimensions.
- Screw or nail all of the side pieces together and attach the backing board.
- Measure the depth of the bee hotel and cut bamboo stems or reeds to this measurement.
- Place the cut bamboo stems or reeds into the box until it’s full and compact. You should be able to shake the box and none of them fall out.
- Once you’ve made your bee hotel, place it in a safe spot in your garden at eye level height.
What makes a good bee hotel?
- A bee hotel without a backing board and roof will expose bees to the wind and rain. Ensure your bee hotel has a backing board and roof to safely house the bees and their young.
- Select bamboo stems varying in size and drill varying sized holes in the logs. Holes more than 1cm in diameter won’t get used.
- Sand rough edges to remove splinters as these can tear bee’s fragile wings.
- Cut bamboo stems between the nodes. If you need longer bamboo stems, ensure the nodes are at the back of the bee hotel.
- Ensure the hollows or holes are no less than 150 mm long as some bees lay female eggs and male eggs at different lengths along the hollow.
- Avoid using non-breathable materials to make your bee hotel, such as plastic or glass, as these materials hold too much moisture.
- Avoid using glue or paint when building your bee hotel.
Create a bee friendly garden
Plant flowers in your garden
While a bee hotel is a great way to provide a safe place for bees to nest, it’s equally important to provide them with food to feed on. Planting a garden filled with a variety of nectar producing flowers is the best way to build a healthy environment for bees in your garden. Native flowering plants and tree are the best for bees as well as open single stemmed flowers such as sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, daisies, nasturtium, and lavender. Shop a range of bee friendly flower seeds here.
Don’t use harmful pesticides
Avoid using pesticides and opt for natural remedies to remove or deter pests from your garden and plants. Toxic pesticides are not only bad for your health and the environment but can be deadly to bees.
Provide a source of water
Like all animals, bees need a safe water source. You can provide this by filling a shallow dish with water and placing a few rocks in it, ensuring the tops are protruding from the water. The bees will use the rocks to land on and safely drink from. Refresh the water every few days to prevent mosquitos from laying their eggs in the water.
Learn more about bees here.