Picture of Make your own little Bee Houses
So I stopped by my local Ace Hardware on my way home to look at some parts for another project, and as I was leaving, I noticed these little bee home things for $10 made from a small half log, two small boards, and some plant tube things. I had to stop and commit to make a few of these for myself and/or friends, just because it's a super easy project  When I got home, I saw that the 'I could make that' contest had been posted, and it almost blew my mind. 

I've made a larger bee home a while back just for the heck of it, and I was actually surprised to find it inhabited a few weeks ago. Since the bee population is kind of on the decline with all the chemicals being used everywhere and whatnot, it's good to try and help them out with places to nest so that they can continue to pollinate your fruits and berries. 

This is just a real easy project, great to put up around the house or even better, in the garden to attract those helpful bees. Really, the bees will nest in any holes that are in a safe and dry space, so this can be made from a wide range or scrap materials. 

Materials: (suggested)
  • a few scrap boards/planks
  • a log or two
  • Nails and Hammer
  • Drill or Drill Press
  • Some kind of Chop, Miter, Slide, or Circulating Saw to cut the boards. A good hand saw, if that's all you have, will do. 
  • Sand paper, if you want it to look nice

diy_bloke1 year ago
Great project. Can also use some bamboo cut to size and make sure it is cut just below the knot and you have some open tubes. tie them together and put a little roof on top like pictured in this instructable
onef2 years ago
This is really cool, but people really should understand that you should never encourage wild bees to nest within 5-10 miles of an airport or sea port.

Doing so could spread parasites, disease, and other bee-killing bad stuff.

It's also worth mentioning if you have wood siding, this should be pretty far from your house to prevent larger hives from developing in your walls.
dsantil71 onef2 years ago
Carpenter bees are the ones that bore holes in wood fencing and siding but only if it is not painted. If the wood fencing or siding you have is painted then don't worry. They can get through stained & untreated wood definitely.
Solitary bees seldom wander farther than 1000ft from home. Honey bees wander several miles, and bumblebees farther still.
Solitary bees that would nest in these holes are unlikely to be a problem unless you live nearly literally next door to a port of any type.
Please PLEASE don't use these for more than a year!
Mason bees and other solitary bees will accumulate parasites in houses like these. Most commonly pollen mites.
I suspect those who have seen leaves fill with wasps have seen victims of Monodontomerus (Parasitic wasp). Probably leafcutter bees.
There are many species of solitary bees.
If you make a house like this and attract mason bees (mud-filled holes) in the spring, you should harvest them in the fall or put it in a paper bag with a hole in it when they start emerging. This will prevent them from going back into the previous "house" which will spread pollen mites.
An amazing resource for information is here: http://www.crownbees.com/category/questions/pests-questions/
and here:
No, I don't work for them but seriously admire his BeeGAP program and his knowledge.
cart562 (author)  TheRevJester2 years ago
I will certainly take a look at that site and learn a bit, thank you.
Twetwe2 years ago
Great look. i love it. I never though about using old logs. Bees are attracted to carbon. You could use a torch before you attach the roof and torch the front. It will make a nice contrast effect and attract more bees too. Also if you can get a little bit longer bit and drill all the way through you can attach the Back with screws and be able to clean out the holes after the holes have been used for the season and be ready for the next season.
cart562 (author)  Twetwe2 years ago
Two very good tips, thank you. I'm just starting to get into this, so thanks.
bignail19542 years ago
I am no expert on bees but I believe 5/16" bits work best for honey bees. Making a fake front with a hollow middle and limiting the hole to 6 near the top under "the canopy" . I believe you will attract more bees.
Lilbear112 years ago
Do they pay rent?
jbodden12 years ago
Better take another look, These are NOT bees. I have had much expericence with these 'grass wasps' or 'leaf wasps' filling every hole they can find, especially in insulated materials like wood or plastic. They just love to plug fire extinguishers (dry chem types) nozzles and the ground holes of electrical plugs. They make nests of cut leaves glued together inside the hole, then lay eggs and stuff the nests with still living insects. True bee deaths are a tragic loss, to us and the biosphere, but these items will do not one single solitary thing to save the life of even ONE actual bee. These are just the true and simple facts of the matter.
Did they perhaps look like this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/snapperz/4114956729/
These are leafcutter bees. If you see tiny wasps emerging, they may have been the victim of parasitizing wasps (see later comment.)
dpark762 years ago
...and you would want venomous insects flying around your house, why?
Many solitary bees, like mason bees, are essentially stingless.
ps, when will comments be editable? it would be a great addition... that being said, these 'wasp traps' are good for keeping the wasps out of other things. These are NOT stinging wasps, afaik, but they are really good at keeping the spider population down.
leaf wasps do not attack people, at least I have never heard of it.
cart562 (author)  dpark762 years ago
To scare my friends (: More like because I love all of my berries, fruits, etc. that grow around here, and they wouldn't exactly do much without help from bees. I actually have wasp nests under the eaves of my roof all the way around my house, but I've been stung once in the past year or so, and that was because we were throwing boards near their home.
It's a great project for everywhere but Texas. In Texas, wasps would take up residence in it. If bees were to take up residence, it would probably be Africanized killer bees.
Africanized "killer" bees are a variety of honey bee which is very aggressive. They do not nest in small holes such as the ones being created here, they nest in larger openings such as hollow logs or moderate sized openings in your house's walls.

As for the wasps, most likely, but that's true no matter where you are in the lower 48.
actually I have a friend in Dallas that has a huge Mason bee network and lots of people providing Mason bee house is like this and its thriving. It is not true that Africanized bees will take up this type of space. Africanized bees are honeybees- just more aggressive than regular honey bees. No type of honey bee would take up this type of house as honey bees build their own nest and I live in the colony. This type of house is meant for solitary bees like a Mason Bees who lives independently of other bees and does not share their work. I'm a beekeepers, so not to come down hard on you just want to set the record straight as many times bees get a bad rap
dpark762 years ago
solitary bees? Had no idea there was such a thing, but if that's the case. I just youtubed "mason bees" and found some cool videos. Apparently mason bees are way more productive than honey bees!!! Neat!!!
T_om2 years ago
Looks like some of your occupants are not bees.

Just a FYI, Eastern Carpenter bees and Mason bees both are hole nesters. But 1/4" holes are too small. You need between 3/8" to 1/2" holes to really attract them.
cart562 (author)  T_om2 years ago
You know, I think I actually did use a 3/8 bit, and forgot to change it from 1/4, sorry
Bryan Smith2 years ago
I have read that the optimum size bit should be 5/16", but I have not verified it in experimentation.
cnobel2 years ago
Warning: make sure you úse wood that is NOT chemically treated in any way. A lot of wood used for building fences is chemically treated or painted or stained to increase its durability. But all that chemical stuff is lethal for the bugs we're all so eager to help out.

Also, in my experience, different kinds of bugs (and there are many variations of solitary bees, wasps, etc) appreciate different kinds of wood.
cart562 (author)  cnobel2 years ago
Aye, I did forget to mention to get untreated wood, thanks.
cyberpigue2 years ago
Great project for several reasons. One, of course it will attract any bee that would normally bore a hole for shelter. Two, it helps keep them from boring where you don't want them to. Three, they DO pollinate in spite of the fact that they are not "honey" bees and we need all bees pollinating.

Good post!
cnobel2 years ago
It helps to position your finished bee house with the holes facing the sun (south-west to south-east if you're on the northern hemisphere). Makes it more attractive for them. A bit of shelter from strong winds is also a good idea.
cnobel2 years ago
It does help to drill holes of varying diameter and depth to accomodate specific wishes of all the different kinds of solitary wasps, bees and other flying things.

It's a great idea to use irregular spacing: most insects are attracted to diversity in plants and flowers, shapes and colours. Those that are not, we usually consider pests. I learned this during a course on permaculture gardening. Plus, it looks nicer :-)

The type of wood also determines whether the inside of the hole has a 'clean' finish: if the inside walls of the hole are too rough, insects won't inhabite it (they can get snagged on very small irregularities or splinters).
judybgris2 years ago
Wasps may build their own small hive under the rave buy won't build inside. These houses are for carpenter bees. They do a better job at pollinating than honey bees and will work on cloudy cool days. This project will keep them from boring into fence posts or other wood.
PaganRaven2 years ago
I love this! And unlike the others, I get which Bee species you are aiming to help here. =)
Truth be known, we need to do what we can to help ALL bees to recover from the chemicals and pollutants. Without bees, we won't survive long at all.
Very good 'ible - straight to the point and simple.
It's a great project for everywhere but Texas. In Texas, wasps would take up residence in it. If bees were to take up residence, it would probably be Africanized killer bees.
Bee homes like this attract solitary species of bee, mainly the many species of "bumble" bee. Hive bees like honey bees look for larger spaces to build in, like hollow trees or overhanging eaves.
cart562 (author)  Kiteman2 years ago
Yes, I believe the main purpose of these homes is for the non-hive building, nomadic bess, like the various types of Mason Bees.
t1espo2 years ago
Great idea and you did a very good job on the presentation. However I must agree with the other comments that Honeybees won't build a hive in there. Hornets, Wasp and Wood Bees will call it home.
Rustedmoon2 years ago
Love it, anything to Help the bees
joey24dirt2 years ago
Such a simple idea I love it. A great project to do with children which could also teach them the importance of bees. Good job!