loading
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

 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
     For this project, you can pretty much use any chunk of wood you have lying around. Other than than that, you need a few flat boards, such as shingles, and some board to attach it to. I'm pretty sure the shingles don't actually make the bees want to move in any more than without them, but they make the finished project look kind of cute. 

     I figure the best way to do this is to have your bee house attached to something solid such as a post or tree, although I have seen ones that are meant to hang from something, but that seems like it wouldn't be so good in the wind. You can choose either way, but I go with attaching them to something solid with a backboard. 

Step 2: Cutting your blocks to size

Picture of Cutting your blocks to size
DSCN2029.JPG
DSCN2030.JPG
DSCN2031.JPG
DSCN2032.JPG
    Since you can really get any deeper than what you drill bit can reach, that's about how long the logs should be. Just eyeballing the first  one, it pretty much just needs to be cut in half, same as the one to the right, the block to the left being pretty good size already.

Remember, safety first! Ear protection is a must when operating loud saws! Feel free to use eye protection as well. 

I went ahead and cut the split log on the slide saw that I usually use, but the round log was too large a diameter, so I used my chop saw on it. 

Now I have 5 pieces to choose from to start my bee house. 

Step 3: Drilling the holes

Picture of Drilling the holes
DSCN2036.JPG
DSCN2037.JPG
DSCN2038.JPG
Now it's time to drill the holes, which is half of the project in itself. An electric hand drill would work as well, but I found my drill press to be much more suitable. I drilled down as far as I could with the bit and my press, which was around 3-4 inches. The split log took a bit longer since it's some kind of semi-hardwood, but I eventually got it done. For something this size, a minimum of 16 holes seems good. 

Now, there are a few things I chose not to do here. The first, I did not make any kind of markings as to where I wanted the holes, I just drilled in a more or less organized fashion. The spacing is important, so I kept them far enough apart, but the overall layout doesn't really matter to the bees nor to me. The second, I did not use any other size bit, only a 3/8 bit, so there might be some bees that might not be able to live here. I might use other bits in the future, but not this time. 

I encourage everyone to do their own research on this, as I am only covering the simplest way possible to make a bee home. 

Step 4: Fitting the shingles

Since this is supposed to resemble a small house, the shingles will be used for the 'roof'.

First, I just stood them up about how they needed to be, and marked about how long I wanted them. After that, I went and cut them both on the slide saw, which I didn't get a picture of. Next, you just nail them on real quick. I just used these little nails, four of them for each side.
The shingles were a bit to wide for the split log piece, so I had to chop them up a bit; I'm sure you can compensate for whatever for  you use. 
After you get the shingles marked, cut, and nailed on, you should have a block of would that hopefully now resembles a small house. Very enticing to those Mason bees that need homes. 

Do your best not to put the nails into the holes you drilled. 

Step 5: Attaching the backboard

Picture of Attaching the backboard
DSCN2054.JPG
DSCN2055.JPG
Next, I just laid the house on the board I planned to cut up for the backboard and once again, eyeballed about where to cut, and measured to the nearest inch. I marked it, and cut a few lengths to use. Attaching them is easy, just turn it over and pound a few nails in there. The little nails seemed good enough for this too, so I didn't bother looking for longer ones. Again, try not to nail into the holes. 

Step 6: Finishing it up

Picture of Finishing it up
As it is, you bee house should be good to go. You may be someone who likes their creations to look nice, however, so feel free to sand it, make it look good, maybe paint the outside, but I wouldn't recommend putting any paint or stain or anything on the hole surface. 

Naturally, I chose not to sand it or do anything special, but that's just me. 

Step 7: Nail it up!

Picture of Nail it up!
DSCN2086.JPG
DSCN2087.JPG
Now that you're done, you can go attach it to somewhere! The best place is probably in or near your garden, if you have one, but anywhere is really fine. Just pick any secure wooden structure such as a tree, post, a tall fence, etc. Also, I believe it is best to have them facing east or southeast so that the bees will get the morning sun as early as possible. I hope you're looking forward to having new neighbors! 

If nothing else, I hope this at least inspires you to look up some better and more detailed ways of creating homes for bees, since they are a vital part of our way of life, and the threat to them from pesticides and what not is very real. 

Step 8: Example

Picture of Example
DSCN2026.JPG
So this is the one I made a while ago, that has been nailed up in my garden for a month or two. As you can see, at least a few bees have taken up residence here, which I think is pretty cool. I even used a bit old roofing for added visuals, however unnecessary it is. 

Thank you for reading!
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
onef1 year 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 onef1 year 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:
http://www.crownbees.com/category/what-to-do/harvesting-cocoons-in-the-fall/
No, I don't work for them but seriously admire his BeeGAP program and his knowledge.
cart562 (author)  TheRevJester1 year ago
I will certainly take a look at that site and learn a bit, thank you.
Twetwe1 year 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)  Twetwe1 year ago
Two very good tips, thank you. I'm just starting to get into this, so thanks.
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.
Lilbear111 year ago
Do they pay rent?
jbodden11 year 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.)
dpark761 year 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)  dpark761 year 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
dpark761 year 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_om1 year 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_om1 year ago
You know, I think I actually did use a 3/8 bit, and forgot to change it from 1/4, sorry
I have read that the optimum size bit should be 5/16", but I have not verified it in experimentation.
cnobel1 year 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)  cnobel1 year ago
Aye, I did forget to mention to get untreated wood, thanks.
cyberpigue1 year 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!
cnobel1 year 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.
cnobel1 year 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).
judybgris1 year 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.
PaganRaven1 year 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)  Kiteman1 year 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.
t1espo1 year 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.
Rustedmoon1 year ago
Love it, anything to Help the bees
joey24dirt1 year 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!