Introduction: Save the Bees From Extinction! You CAN Do It.

Picture of Save the Bees From Extinction! You CAN Do It.

In North America 4 THOUSAND  types  of bees are disappearing! 
Some are extinct already. 
This is a NEW method to make bee habitat.
  Colony collapse disorder is hard to blame when most bees are solitary! 
Thats right, most types of bees live alone. 
One big reason that they are disappearing is habitat loss. 
This instructable suggests ways to provide solitary bees with brood space and overnight shelter in an attempt to replace some of that lost habitat.  So far it is working much better than I expected.

Step 1: Cob and Rods and Stems and Things

Picture of Cob and Rods and Stems and Things

I have worked on since spring is to make blocks of cob (sand clay water and straw mixed to a gooey constituency  and let dry.  What I did was to get various different sizes of metal rod and push them into a block of wet cob and then let it dry for a couple of days.  Before it is completely dry, I take out the rods and this left holes for the bees.
I show a couple of the blocks here.
It worked and there are at least 4 types of bees living in the block.
I recently discovered that solitary bees burrow inside old raspberry canes!
So one really easy thing you can do to help the bees is to bundle up old raspberry canes and leave the bundle in a dry south facing location.  I am sure the bees will find them, burrow into some and leave some bee babies to hatch out next spring.

Step 2: Cob and Bars and Stems

Picture of Cob and Bars and Stems

I layer the bars and stems  in the cob and try to pack as many sizes and types of stems as possible. So I use dill, weed stems, cicily stems, grape vines, and brassica stems  that have gone to seed.
Anything hollow or with a pithy middle.

Step 3: Shelter, Brood and Success!

Picture of Shelter, Brood and Success!

I attach some pictures of different types of bees that enter the holes in the cob and that enter the stems. I made one ugly cob and stem block last week and the bees are starting to use it now. There are about 5 types of bees using the cob blocks. The wasp mimic uses it for shelter at night, a bee about the size of the orchard masons uses it for brood. A green bee seems to use it for brood. A tiny black bee uses some small and medium holes and a large brown bee uses it too.  Today, 3rd august, tiny bees were swarming a little near the cob and stem block and a large bee used one of the front holes.

Step 4: Links Other People Make Bee Habitat Too!

I just found a few really good links!!  (August 2011).  One is in German but it has TONS of pictures that really help explain what is going on. (It's kinds freaky because some of it is so similar to some of the stuff I did). It is on a much larger scale than anything I did and definitely worth importing to North America.
And another is in English seems to be artists and scientists coming together to make beautiful bee habitat. is pictures of home made bee and wasp houses.
 Don't be afraid of solitary wasps, they rarely sting, "she who runs away, can lay an egg tomorrow" and all that.   Its the sterile frustrated social wasps and bees  that cannot lay eggs that do most of the stinging.
You can just bundle teasel stems, or raspberry canes or any hollow stem or reed and produce bee habitat.   Dave from Camas, Washington has been bundling teasel stems for several years and some of his pics are at the link above. And they work!   Bees wasps and ants of north America
It should be noted that wasps, even Yellow Jackets perform pollination.  I have seen them work hard on dill. Those yellow jackets also spend a lot of time eating aphids and caterpillars on trees. So in the ecosystem, they are an important part of the puzzle.
Here is a nice link to the solitary bees of the UK
A guy in Toronto has just identified 19 NEW species of bee.  Which means 19 more species of bees to save!  (I think the thing in their picture is a hoverfly, it is hard to see but bees have 4 wings and a long tongue). The link is here

Step 5: One Year Later!

Picture of One Year Later!

I had hoped to post pictures  a week or 2 ago but the shutter broke on my camera and everything was over exposed. New camera now but no dates on the pictures.   The cob bee blocks were very successful.  Almost all the holes were filled, mostly in the spring of the second year. The bee vase seens less successful but I know that bees are still using it regularly. They have burrowed into the raspberry stems, vine stems and dill weed. Some have also used the cob holes.

Step 6: Save Me From the Rain!

Picture of Save Me From the Rain!

It rained 6 or 7 mm today 22 August 2011 (first rain of the month) and the poor bees just hid and waited it out in any holes that did not have brood in them.   Beats hypothermia, eh?  Here are screenshots from the camera to show them waiting it out. It is just one picture but I zoomed parts of it to show the little bees.  If you look carefully, you can see some holes with brood in them too. (capped off with mud) or you can just read the image notes.


ChrysN (author)2010-08-04

Nice! It would be cool to set up a bee-cam nearby to see them hanging out there.

gaiatechnician (author)ChrysN2010-08-25
Not a bee cam, just a few minutes with a mini dv camcorder but as you can see, they are using the vase! The really neat thing to me is that the bees are doing unexpected things. I did not know that they would go into the dill stems. (But I put them in anyway) I certainly did not expect that some bees would PREFER to tear out the pith from dill even thought many of the easy to occupy holes are just sitting there waiting to be used. A year ago, I did not even know that these little black flies were bees! And 6 months ago, I thought wool carder bees were wasps. Useful experiment and it has expanded my knowledge. Hopefully it will do the same for others. Brian

chuckr44 (author)2016-03-22

I sit 2 ft from flowers where bees (and wasps) are gathering pollen or nectar. I didn't know there were wasps that gathered nectar. I never have a problem with them getting aggressive. Except the leaf cutter bees are very curious and will sometimes zip once around my head. Then they are satisfied I'm not a giant bee and I'm not trying to take their territory. Leaf cutters can get in quite a scuffle over a blooming sunflower though! lol.

gaiatechnician (author)chuckr442016-03-22

I have seen wasps gathering nectar too. Especially on dill flowers but I have also seen "carder bees" that look very much like wasps, collect nectar too. Especially from toadflax. They seem to love that flower. I have also seen the adults of "rat tailed maggots" (a type of hover fly) which look like and fly through the air just like wasps, feed on flowers too. All may not be as it seems in nature! The adult rat tailed maggot, in my locality, is an astonishingly good wasp mimic. Thanks for the comment Brian

cookinbaconnaked (author)2015-10-05

Interesting ible. Seems like it would be a good idea to add to the north wall of a greenhouse. Combining thermal mass with a habitat for beneficial insects to your garden. I am alergic to honey-bees and many other insects. Unless I'm F***ing with them I rarely have a problem though. I commend you for taking action toward building a wildlife habitat and encouraging others to do so.

I have never been stung by these ones. Many don't sting at all and the rest only sting if there is a complete accident where you crush them. The bad stingers are the social wasps, hornets and honey bees, They gang up on you because they have the numbers. These ones run away because they don't! They are solitary or very loosely social. (they tolerate each other and avoid conflict).

gleidson.batista.5 (author)2014-07-28

Take a bucket, INflate a baloon inside with a pencil in your hole and fill around with cement.
2 days after, explode the baloon. Keep theninside or try pull it out.

mojobo1 (author)2010-08-06

Extinction..? Lol no, you mean reduction in numbers in the big cities right? I live in Montana and bees are everywhere. There's thousands of honey bees and bumble bees in my back yard.

gaiatechnician (author)mojobo12010-08-06

Bees are declining everywhere, even in rural Montana. It is both in numbers and types of bee. has info about different types of bees.

mojobo1 (author)gaiatechnician2010-08-08

Well, I don't claim to be an expert on the matter. Nor do I want to research it, but in my opinion species naturally declines and rises over time. 3-4 years ago the Wolf population in Montana was fairly scarce for a while. Now there are way too many and farmers are complaining that the wolves are eating their cattle. So, yeah. All I'm saying is I'm not too worried about it.

LesB (author)mojobo12013-08-06

This is not a "natural" decline, it's a decline fostered in part by the use of harmful pesticides.

sparkleponytx (author)mojobo12010-08-09

The only reason the wolf population is doing better is due to environmental organizations like EarthJustice ( taking action in the courts and other places to protect the wolf. It is not due to a natural "decline and rise." If people who care didn't shove back, those who don't care would wipe out the wolves and lots of other species.

gaiatechnician (author)mojobo12010-08-08

We are in the 6th great extinction event on this planet. "Fairly scarce" and "way to many" wolves is hardly objective. I doubt that the wolves think there are way too many of them. There is nothing natural about the bee decline worldwide (not just honey bees) Many bee extinctions over the last couple of decades is just the start of their extinction event. A species cannot rise from the dead.

saabstorey (author)mojobo12010-08-19

there is little correlation between globally declining numbers and your backyard numbers.

groverbover (author)mojobo12010-08-08

Whenever some species decline, others prosper. You may be seeing the beneficiaries of the many species in decline. The decline in bee species is well documented across the US

Tigerlynx (author)2012-10-15

I did this in a park (away from people incase they harmed the bees) and forgot about it. A few months later I found it where I left it (hung from a tree) full. I didn't get to close but the field is full of flowers :D

flyingpuppy (author)2012-08-30

No chance yellowjackets can take up residence in there, is there?

I don't think so. They require a big space and this is many small spaces. I think it would require too much energy on their part. This year I have moved about 5 km to a different house and I took my bees with me. (Bees are still using it). At the end of last year leafcutters were using some of the lower stems. What incredible fliers! My new place is generally windier so probably not as good as the old one for bees.

yoyology (author)2012-06-21

Following your link in Step 4, I see that they recommend moving the habitats in winter to keep them from getting waterlogged. Are you doing this, or have you come up with another solution to keep them dry over winter?

Also, do the holes have to be circular? Will solitary bees use hexagonal or triangular holes?

AluminumFoilMaster (author)2012-04-02

The only thing harming them is people with fly swatters. And that doesn't do much. Oh yeah, and when they build a hive on your house, what do you think we are gonna do, get stung whenever we go outside? I mean, they have tons of places to make hives anyway, even with habitat loss. Despite having a terrible fear of bees, I know that the world needs them. But you don't need to make hives for them... If you like them then let them make hives on your house.

Solitary bees do not make hives, most species are declining and they do not have savage stings like honey bees or paper wasps. Many thing are harming them and some have become extinct. Neonicotinoid insecticides are by far the most serious treat, but also Pollen from Monsanto crops, and monoculture in general is seriously harming them. If you want apples, pears, plums and peaches, you have to have bees too. So it is very much in our interest to stop their decline.

Pattymouth (author)2012-03-25

OMGosh - I just found this and it's amazing! Too bad it was taken over by long, long, long-winded people who have another (although worthy) agenda.

I SO want to do this. Thanks for an amazing diy. What better excuse is there for playing in the mud at my age?

madelyn russo (author)2011-11-27

it's true!!!! i CAN do it!!!!!!!!

Yes you can. A guy in Ontario "discovered" 5 or 6 new bee species!
He found the samples on his walk home from work, brought them in to the lab, did a genetic test and they did not match the types that were already identified. So even if your backyard bees "look" like some bee in a reference book they may be unrelated.
They may be a new species! I am not asking people to catalogue everything.
Just assume that it is precious and worth saving for the next generation.
If YOU don't do it, do not expect your neighbour to do it. You really ARE the last hope for the native bees in your area.

gaiatechnician (author)2011-10-16

Please note that this instructable is not about honey bees.
If people want to submit their exotic theories about honey bee extinction, please do it somewhere else. I will look into getting the spam deleted.
This is about helping the thousands of other kinds of bees which polinate flowers. Many of these bees have become extinct in the last decade, some before they even got an official name. I did not even notice! half the bee species that live and work on my property until I started making this bee habitat.

einnis (author)2011-09-25

If you have a beehive and would like to shield it from electromagnetic radiation, simply wrap it with foil.

For added protection stake a wire into the ground and connect it to your foil lining.

A large galvanized or stainless steel nail or screw hammered into the ground would do the trick. Other metals would do fine but might rust sooner. Copper and iron tend to corrode. You'd have to replace them eventually if they do.

Instead of foil, you could use a fine-mesh metal screen or some sheet metal if you so choose. I just say foil because you 'prolly already have some in your house.

Make sure it's secured so the wind doesn't blow it off, say with some weatherproof caulking or other weatherproof glue.

I would 'prolly look for something like 100% Silicone. If it says "safe for food contact" or it's made for sealing aquariums, that's cool. I'd think it to have less of the industrial solvents in there that might interfere with a bee.

If you use a metal that is prone to rust, be sure to paint it where it's exposed, but make sure the metal on the lid can touch the side without any paint in the way. Leave that bare so it makes contact.

Be sure to leave enough space for the bees to get in and out, and be certain to leave enough space for ventilation. Air is good. We don't want to suffocate them in there. They can regulate the temperature if you let them.

Bees can always fill in gaps if they need to, but they can't make the air gaps any bigger if you don't make 'em big enough to begin with. This is especially true in the wintertime, as moisture can freeze in there.

The idea of the foil wrap is that the electromagnetic radiation will stay outside of your box, especially if you connect this to the ground. Look up "Faraday cage" on Google or Wikipedia.

tuxedo1954 (author)2011-09-20

this is a great post..thanks for the beneficial info...

willow.narwhal (author)2011-08-16

I don't know that I have the tools for this, but you've inspired me to get a bee skep c:

Miles Tails Prower (author)2010-08-15

I like bees, they pollinate plants, and cheer me up. But I hate solitary wasps. Their annoying left-right hovering really freaks me out. If wasps would extinct, i wouldn't care.

You mean social wasps, don't you? (yellowjackets). I have not seen solitary wasps do the left right hovering thing.

A lot of wasps don't/can't sting humans but will help massively reduce numbers of pest/invasive insects by laying their larva in/on the pests. Parasitical wasps are one of the best pest control options available.

Yes, I have issues with being stung and hating wasps but it's mostly just yellow jackets and the giant black wasps that are a problem-just remember that there are plenty of helpful wasps too.

spook66 (author)2011-06-01

Lol, cagey bees

rn04072 (author)2011-03-30

Thank you so much for this great instructable! We are all concerned about the bees and this is something anyone can do. I can't wait for summer to try it in my yard.

hurfdedurf (author)2010-11-07

If I may, there's something missing in your... hole-glob-thing.

Consider getting chicken wire, folding it over on itself to the holes don't line up (make the spaces in the wiring as small as possible), and cover the front of the tubes with a few inches of clearance. I've already had issues this year with birds getting at the bees, and I'd hate to see someone else have to go through it.

Thanks. It is probably a good idea. However there will be an issue with bees bumping their wings against the wire on the way in. On balance, I think chicken wire is an advantage. The holes are 8 or 9 inches long. Bees lay the female eggs deeper down so the birdys get males (and not all of them).

getstukn (author)2010-09-30

Nice instructable thanks

mr fix it (author)2010-09-06

Very nice instructable but from the very few picture you have added of the actual animal itself this are not bees: this are wasp! the worst enemy off all for bees. You should verify with a professional but bees don't usually build nest with earth. Popular beliefs are that bees are yellow and black. This is mainly due to Disney and Pixar representation of bees. But in fact bees are usually more brownish with very discreet rings on the back of a rounded body. For bees please refer to: for wasp please refer to: Wasp are carnivorous animals that kill bees... if this are Wasp please kill them. Asian Wasp are currently responsible for the decline of bees in Europe. I might be wrong but please seek professional advice with a bee keeper or fireman. Thanks

gaiatechnician (author)mr fix it2010-09-06

The bees that look like wasps are called wool carder bees. Up till this year, I though they were wasps too. There are lots of different bee species in north america. (About 4000). Many are tiny, like little black flys. many are green and there are mimics that look like something else too.
I have a video of the little black bees using the beevase at a link above. If solitary wasps use it too, I am not concerned. I am only concerned if it becomes a "monoculture" with only one type. I have seen the black ones, green ones, yellow ones and 2 large brown types. That is good for starters.

eyerobot (author)2010-09-02

It's true that we rely heavily as a species on the work that bees do. It's also true that humans generally do not love bees. The idea that we are killing ourselves when we kill the bees is not far fetched at all either, And leads me into thinking in terms of protecting myself from the bees, While still allowing them to feed, And live in the nearby trees. Since reading this instructible, I have begun using mothballs to drive out unwanted wasps, And yellowjackets from my barn. It was painless, And didn't kill a single bee, As far as i can tell. Now I dont know whats in a mothball, But I know not a single insect of any kind will go in my barn now. I took this action because my wife is deathly allergic to bee stings, And I hold a serious grudge against them, For the thousands of stings ive endured in my life. But I do not want to wipe them from the planet, Just from my buildings. So I think I will begin to create some of your designs for bee housing, But very close to the woods, So they dont think im welcoming them into my house again. Great idea, Thanks.

conrad2468 (author)2010-08-06

I hate bees....even though they pollinate flowers and other plants..

thepelton (author)conrad24682010-08-07

Without bees, much of the fresh fruit would not exist. It would be a bland world indeed.

ac1D (author)thepelton2010-08-07

We are not 2000years ago, we can collect seed and do bee work. Kill every bee you see! Human for president! Bee must die!

pdub77 (author)ac1D2010-08-08

Bees are directly responsible for around one third of the food we eat each day. We don't have enough people or technology to do their job. No bees equals less food and higher prices.

Exocetid (author)pdub772010-08-08

Haven't they developed a robot bee yet? Thought I saw an Instructable on how to make one...

kinetic_elite (author)Exocetid2010-08-24

DARPA did! Time to check wikileaks. Just kidding, we were just lucky to get a snippet of it.

ac1D (author)Exocetid2010-08-08

If I am allergic to bee.. Will I be allergic to mechanic bee?

Exocetid (author)ac1D2010-08-08

Depends on how well it is made.

ac1D (author)pdub772010-08-08

Killing a bee is like throwing a can out of your window. All the eco-ppl cry, but it don't harm you and it will not. It may hurt in 100years, but then, who care?

bsmaka (author)ac1D2010-08-10

You! Out of the gene pool now! You won't be missed in 50 years... it's kind of creepy when this logic is applied to yourself. Your comments suggest such a high level of arrogance and ignorance that it is staggering to the finite mind. If you were to wipeout the bee type pollinators of the world in a lot less time then 100 years you would have world wide starvation. Please don't say something asinine like "We will just eat meat" because without these key insects you will not have the resources to feed livestock much less yourself. I am not an "eco-ppl" as you put it but I am well aware of the balance that is needed to keep humanity around. Careless actions won't in the end destroy the Earth, it will just potentally give one giant Darwin Award to the whole human race. There just won't be anyone around to watch it on youtube.

ac1D (author)bsmaka2010-08-10

Funny how 50% of the person like the environment on the tv/internet, and don't in real life.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a stone mason. My hobby is making new solar cooking and gardening stuff. I have used solar heat to cook soil for a ... More »
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