There are lots of different bee houses out there. This is a slightly different version that features a planted green roof with rockery plants. Adding this to our garden gives the useful native pollinators a place to nest.
The idea is based off of a picture we scrolled through on pinterest - I couldn't find that original so haven't posted a link here. The instructions here were all just based on what we thought would look good.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
Collect a bunch of different materials - basically anything and everything you think might be useful. Having some blocks of wood to drill holes into and some stacked items is best.
We used mostly scrap materials (some might say trash - others treasure!) such as:
- plywood for the base (approx 24 x 24),
- plywood roof and gable ends (roof: approx 11 x 12; ends: approx 18 x 14);
- some lichen covered slats from a very old bench;
- 4x4 and 6x6 blocks;
- assorted bamboo canes;
- a piece of wood that had been riddled by carpenter ants;
- pine cones;
- other miscellaneous rounds of wood;
- Sedum plants (these we purchased as a tile from Home Depot);
- mosses, hen and chicks and other small plants;
- Decorative rocks and crystals;
- lichen covered branches;
- birch bark.
- small squared deer proof plastic netting (to keep everything from falling out)
- table saw or skill saw,
- straight edges,
- waterproof glue,
- 2” screws and 2” panel pins,
- drill with two drill bits and screw bit.
We set aside a couple of days one for planning and basic construction and the other for planting and decorating.
Step 2: Building the Resort Structure
Decide on the size, shape and general layout of the bee hotel. We made these decisions based on the scrap materials that we had available.
We decided on a two sided pitched roof where the bees can access from two sides. Cut the plywood: two gable ends with a 35 degree angle at the peak, one base and two roof pieces. Hold together by hand to get a sense of the size and shape to see if you are happy with the design.
If so, attach the two blocks of wood on the plywood base on diagonally opposite corners of the bee hotel footprint by screwing them into place from the underside of the plywood base. Use these blocks to support the two gable ends and a central divider to create the basic outline of the bee hotel..
Leave the roof parts off at this point in order to allow you to fill the structure more easily.
Next we placed our ant riddled wood; bamboo lengths, pine cones and smaller wood pieces between the end gables, totally filling the space from both sides to the roof line.
Then drill lots of random holes of different diameters into the blocks of wood we used to fill the resort. For most solitary cavity nesting bees, they prefer long straight holes to lay their eggs in.
Step 3: Assemble the Roof and Base
We used lichen covered slats from an old bench for the roof and base edges. These were about 1/2 inch by 2 inches.
The base edges were simple to assemble. Cut a 45 degree angles with a chop saw on each end. Glue and screw the slats around the base.
Cut the edges to the roof to fit the size of your roof. The edges of the roof need to be deep enough to hold enough soil to prevent it drying out too quickly so we used 2 slats high.
Glue and nail three sides of each roof pitch to the roof bases, and then glue and screw the two roof bases down onto the supporting gable ends. It did not matter if the plywood roof pieces meet in the middle so long as the sides meet neatly.
Reinforce the peak join from inside the planting area with screws to insure a good fit.
Then, lay plastic over the plywood roof pieces.
Step 4: Plant the Roof
The final step (and the most artistically satisfying) was to plant and decorate the roof garden and the surround on the base.
Fill the roof with potting soil. You can use deer netting to hold things together where needed.
Plant the roof with sedum, hen & chicks or any shorter style rockery plants that like the sun. We added various size rocks and crystals -- use anything that interests you!
We also decorated the end walls and platform base with other interesting 'scraps'.
The finished product always seems to be much bigger and heavier than expected. This structure takes two people to lift.
We set it on a large round block of wood about 24” high as a focal point for the garden.