Bee hotels are now really easy to buy online or in garden centres.
We all know that there’s been a massive reduction in the numbers of bees in the UK in recent years. So Busy Mum is turning into Busy Bee for a while, and lending a helping hand to the lovely bees. However small your garden, or even if you don’t have one, there’s still things you can do to help.
If you want to try making a bee hotel yourself, here’s our guide to how you can create a simple DIY version:
You’ll need a 2 litre drinks bottle, with both ends cut off, so that you are left with a tube of plastic. You could also use a flower-pot with the end cut off. You will also need to find some tubes, to create the nests for the bees to lay their eggs in – bamboo canes and hollow reeds are brilliant for this.
The tubes must be hollow all the way through and robust enough to withstand the wind and rain, so something like a paper straw would be too flimsy. If you can, try to find materials with different sized holes (between 2mm and 10mm) so that you can cater for different bee varieties.
Cut the tubes so that they fit into the plastic bottle but are slightly shorter, to provide some protection from the weather. Use sandpaper to file down any sharp edges, as this will put the bees off. Block one end of each tube with modelling clay or similar, so that the eggs can not fall out. It can also be helpful at this point to ‘stick’ the tubes together with the clay, so that they stay put within the cylinder.
You will need to hang the hotel up at least one metre from the ground, in a sunny spot facing south or south east, and with nothing blocking the entrance. You could also create a hotel in a large log or piece of wood by drilling long holes into it.
Here’s a brief timeline of what you can expect to happen in your bee hotel:
Summer – the bees will lay their eggs inside the tubes, and block the other ends up with leaves and mud
Autumn – the eggs will hatch into larvae, which then feed on the ‘food’ left for them at the end of the tubes
It can be very beneficial to move your bee hotel from October to February into a more protected spot, or even inside a garage or shed (as long as it is not heated) The larvae will hibernate until spring and when it reaches a consistently warmer temperature.
Spring – the larvae will have formed into bees, and will emerge as bees to start feeding on nectar and pollen. It is really helpful to the bees to have a source of water / rainwater as well as plants to feed on.
It is possible to purchase bee larvae to grow inside your hotel, and there are species of bees which are non-stinging (such as mason bees) so they are great for gardens with young children. Please make sure that you seek professional advice if you are going down this route, and follow the instructions very carefully!
Have a look at our previous post with ideas for which plants to grow to help bees even more.