🐝 How to make a bee hotel in 5 easy steps! By Tristan Colaco
Insects are amazing. Not only are they beautiful and fascinating in their own right, but many of them are also vital for the survival of other plants and animals; including humans. A great example of this is pollinating insects.
What are pollinating insects?
These are insects that visit flowers, transferring pollen between plants; this insect pollination is essential for many species of plants to reproduce. Among the plants that need insect pollinators are many plants that we eat the fruit of, for example, apples, strawberries, tomatoes to name a few.
Pollination is done by a wide range of insects including flies, moths and bees. Unfortunately, many of these species are rapidly declining, partly due to habitat loss.
This is where you can help out, by making a bee hotel to provide nesting habitat for bees.
Whilst honeybees and bumblebees live in large groups (colonies), the majority of bee species are solitary (they live alone) - there are more than 200 species of solitary bee in the UK. Because many of them nest in small holes making a bee hotel will provide a home for some of these bee species!
This blog demonstrates one way to make a bee hotel but feel free to experiment with other designs.
🐝The important things to remember are that the bees like🐝:
Nice tidy holes - no sharp edges that might damage delicate wings.
Narrow holes - a mixture between 5mm and 10mm diameter is good but no larger than this.
Deep holes - Ideally around 20cm deep but anywhere between 12cm and 25cm is good.
Dead ends - make sure that the holes are only open at one end as the bees like a single entrance and exit.
Dry - make sure the bee hotel won’t get too wet, either place it somewhere under shelter or make a nice waterproof top for it.
Sunny - make sure that the bee hotel gets put in a nice sunny spot facing south or south east.
Flowery - if you can, make sure there are plenty of flowers nearby for the bees to feed on.
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Here is a picture of the final product to give you an idea of what we are aiming for:
To make your bee hotel, you will need:
Bamboo cane- this is great for creating all the small holes for the bees. If you don’t have bamboo you could use old straws or something similar. As long as the holes are around 5-10mm in diameter and longer than around 12cm, and the material is relatively weatherproof.
Old plastic bottle- something to put the bamboo canes (or straws etc) into. Ideally something waterproof and that will overhang the entrance to the holes is great to stop the canes from getting too wet. Best if it is only open at one end to make sure all the holes only have one entrance and exit.
String- something to put the insect hotel up with.
1. Cut the top off the plastic bottle using strong scissors (ask an adult to help with this). We are looking to create a container that is open one end and closed the other. It wants to be a bit more than 20cm or so deep so that it will overhang the entrances to the holes. Something with straight edges makes the following steps easier.
2. Cut your bamboo to length. Get an adult to help and wear gloves! Ideally around 20cm long but slightly depends on the size of your container. You need enough pieces to tightly pack into your container.
3. Pack your pieces of bamboo cane into the container. You want to pack as many as you can in to make sure they are nice and tightly in to make the bee hotel as sturdy as possible. Try and make sure the container comes a few centimetres over the edge of the ends of the canes to protect the entrances to the bee hotel from the elements.
4. Tie some string tightly around the whole bee hotel to make sure the canes are held snugly in the container.
5. Hang your bee hotel in a nice sunny spot. Make sure it is securely in place so that it does not get blown about in the wind.
Now you can look out for bees!
Why not challenge a friend or family member to make one for their garden or local green space? Thanks for reading!