Make a solitary bee house: your step by step guide with Hannah Grows

Making your own bee house is simple, easy and fun.

A house for solitary bees can be made out of recycled materials, and placed anywhere, irrespective of whether you live in the city or country. 

House 1

Safetry first: Adult supervision may be required

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Materials:

1. Waterproof container – such as a plastic bottle or juice carton - or length of plastic piping
2. Scissors
3. Warm fabric – such as an old jumper, cardboard or wool
4, Enough of hollow tubes to fill the container - such as dry cow parsley stems, paper straws, bamboo canes (aim for each to be 15cm long)
5. Air-drying clay or stiff mud that's not too wet
6. String or wire

1. Carefully cut off the top of the container 18cm from its base and discard the top.

2. Place a ball of clay/mud inside at the base and push down firmly to secure.

3. Fill the inside space with hollow tubes.

4. Push tubes firmly into the clay/mud.

5. Line the container with your warm fabric, packing the tubes in as tightly as possible so they're firmly held in place. 

7. Use string or wire to hang up your bee house on a sunny south facing wall, fence or post at least one metre above the ground.

Weather warning: If the winter is colder than minus 5 degrees, take down your bee house and keep it in a cool, dry place. Don't forget to put it back up in the same position around the middle of February or once the bad weather is over.  

House 2 

Home-made brightly painted bee house

Safety first:

  • As this involves a drill - it's best created by adults. Any young people involved need adult supervision. 
  • When drilling always: clamp down wood securely, wear safety glasses, tie back long hair and loose clothing.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Materials:

1. Block/log of untreated, seasoned wood approximately 15cm (deep) x 10cm (wide) x 15cm (high)
2. Flat piece of wood for the roof approximately 20cm x 15cm x 1.5cm
3. Drill
4. Clamp
5. Safety glasses 
6. Drill bits 6-10mm diameter 
7. Screws
8. String or wire
9. Non-toxic paint/oil pastels for decorating 

Materials for creating home-made bee house 1

1. Clamp the block of wood securely.

A section of clamped wood

2. Drill holes in one side of the block. Make the holes as deep as possible but do not come through to the other side of the wood.

3. Place the flat roof piece of wood onto the top surface of the block. Make sure it hangs over the entrances to the holes to protect them from the rain. 

Bee house with drilled holes

4. Make sure the roof piece does not overhang the block at the back so it can sit flat against a wall.

5. Using two screws, firmly attach the roof piece to the top of the block of wood. Pre-drill the holes to prevent the wood from splitting.

Creating the roof of a bee house

6. Screw two screws to the back of the block, leave them protruding out a bit so that you can attach wire/string to hang up your bee house.

7. Decorate the wood using bright colours to attract the bees. 

Home-made brightly painted bee house

This bee house will last for many years and doesn't need to be moved in cold weather.

How to hang your bee house

  • Attach your bee house securely on a sunny south facing wall, fence or post at least one metre above the ground.
  • Bees don’t like a house that is too shady, wobbles or to be in a windy spot.
  • If you see spider webs inside the bee house, the location is too dark.  

What to look out for

  • You will know that bees are living in your house when you see the tubes filled up with mud, leaves or bits of fluff - different species of solitary bees use different types of materials.
  • When you see a tube filled up at the end it means that the tube is filled with a line of six to 10 baby bees that will emerge next spring. Just think of all the plants they will pollinate, the fruit and vegetables that will grow thanks to their (and your) hard work.

Additional ways to help bees

  • Decorate your bee house as brightly as possible.
  • Sow your Grow Wild seeds nearby. 
  • Leave a bowl of water near the bee house or even better create a pond.