Make your own bee hotel and support bee populations
Bee hotels are a great way to boost the population of local pollinators. They also provide a wonderful focal point to observe the activities of bees. Follow our simple guide and make your own.
Why protect bees?
Bees are probably the most important pollinators of crops and other plants. We rely on bees to pollinate apples, plums, carrots, coffee, cotton and much more. Worryingly, many bee species are in decline, largely because of the loss of feeding and nesting habitats.
What are bee hotels?
Not all bees live in hives. Many bee species nest in tiny spaces ranging from hollow plant stems to holes in deadwood or bare ground.
Bee hotels consist of a number of hollow tubes. They mimic the conditions suitable for bees that nest above ground in stems and holes.
Which species will use a bee hotel?
Many bees and beneficial solitary wasps could potentially take up residence in the hotel, but the most likely species are:
Red Mason Bees
In spring and early summer, female Red Mason Bees will often build nests sealed with mud. They have a black head and a bright reddish body. Males are smaller and have a tuft of white hair on their face.
Blue Mason Bees
In spring and early summer, Blue Mason Bees will build nests sealed with chewed leaf (green when fresh, fading to black). Females are a dark metallic blue, while males are a shiny metallic green and have more orange-coloured hairs.
Look out for Leaf-cutter Bees, which make their nest cells out of leaves.
These tiny, almost hairless black bees build their nest out of natural polyester, which they create from glands in their abdomen and mouth
A wide variety of beneficial solitary wasps will use bee hotels including crabonid, eumenid, and pemphredonid wasps. They provision the nests with a variety of pest species including caterpillars and greenfly, and use a variety of nest materials.
The bees and wasps that use hotels are not dangerous and do not produce a painful sting. For lots of interesting bee facts and information see the International Bee Research Association website.
How to build your own bee hotel
OPAL West Midlands have developed a guide on how to make your own bee hotel. It's cheap and easy to build, but should be made by adults only.
How to make your own bee hotel (PDF, 1.2MB)