Bee Hotels and Houses
Here's why it is good to put a Bee Hotel in your garden
If you want to make your garden as environmentally friendly as possible, then it is important to take the time to think about how you can help wildlife to thrive. Being environmentally conscious is more important now than ever before - the world is at a tipping point, environmentally things could go either way, which is why making room for wildlife in your garden is so crucial to the environment as a whole and to local ecosystems.
Solitary bees are crucial pollinators, and they are a great friend to any gardening enthusiast. If you want to create a garden that is bright, beautiful, and filled with happy, healthy plants, you should aim to encourage solitary bees to inhabit your garden. One of the best ways you can encourage solitary bees to inhabit your garden is to build a bee hotel.
While bumblebees and honeybees live in colonies, the majority of bees are actually solitary bees and prefer to live alone. Female solitary bees spend the majority of their time searching for suitable nesting sites - some solitary bees will create holes in the ground to nest in, while others will utilise beetle holes or stems that have been hollowed out to nest in. However, if you are able to offer them a suitable home, such as in a bee hotel, you will make life far easier for these important pollinators.
How do you make a bee house?
Obviously, you can buy pre-made bee hotels, however if you have the time, tools, and inclination, you can make one yourself at home:
To make a bee hotel you will need:
- A 10cm wooden plank - the wood should be untreated
- Lots of hollow stems - ideally 3-5mm in width (bamboo is good for this)
- A saw, screws, a drill, and secateurs
- A fixing to hang the completed hotel up with
What are the steps to create a bee hotel?
Step 1: Cut the plank of wood into four pieces and use them to build a rectangular frame for the hollow stems to sit in.
Step 2: Assemble the frame using screws to hold everything in place
Step 3: Cut the bamboo - or whatever material you are using - to fit snuggly into the frame with the holes upright.
Step 4: Place the frame flat on the floor and start assembling the stems into the frame - these should fit in snuggly, and the stems should hold themselves in place without the need for glue.
Step 5: Add the hanging fixing to the bee hotel and hang it somewhere quiet in your garden.
When it comes to where you should hang your bee box, it is a good idea to choose a sheltered, sunny location. Ideally, you want to select somewhere that is fairly safe from the rain and other extremes of weather.
How do you encourage bees to come?
The fact is that you cannot really do anything to encourage bees to come - however, by creating a safe haven for them, you should see plenty of bee activity in your bee hotel.
Within a few weeks of hanging your hotel, you should start to see some bee activity - the female solitary bees should lay their eggs in the stems of your bee hotel, along with a store of pollen for the bee grub to consume when it hatches. Each egg will be carefully sealed behind a plug of debris, and you may find multiple eggs in each stem. The bee grubs will grow over a few months and emerge the next spring.
What is great about building a bee hotel is the fact that not only will you encourage bees to come, but you will also encourage a diverse range of other insects to make your garden their home. Bee hotels are commonly used by ladybirds and other flying insects as safe havens to nest in.
If you want to keep a close eye on your bee hotel and what’s living inside it, you could consider rigging up a camera close by, allowing you to watch all of the activity without disturbing your bee hotel’s inhabitants.
For encouraging more wildlife to live in your garden, building a bee hotel is a great step to take. If you want to make your garden as environmentally friendly as possible, then it is important to take the time to think about how you can help wildlife to thrive. If you are someone who does not feel comfortable doing DIY, then you could opt to purchase a readymade bee hotel instead. There are plenty available to buy online, should you want to purchase a pre-made design.