Bees are pretty brilliant creatures; they defy the laws of physics, factor into most of our food production, have a complex social structure, can sense earth's magnetic field, produce the only known natural food item that never spoils, and, on top of all that, are pretty brilliant architects. The honeycomb structure of interlocking hexagons is not only strong; it saves space and is extremely convenient. So, why not put bees' brilliance to work for both you and them? One of the best things to do to help protect bees is planting bee-friendly plants; this interlocking garden will provide you with extra space for growing herbs and flowers (plus a convenient system to prevent water waste) and help bees out by producing food and other beneficial plants for them. While you don't strictly have to use bee-friendly plants in this project, lots of plants that benefit bees are useful, pretty, and/or delicious to humans as well- so why not?
You can build as many hexagonal units for this garden as you like, in any size that will provide them with enough support; they can also be easily mounted on walls rather than stacked.
Step 1: Materials
For this project you're going to need
- Strong glue appropriate for whatever material you decide to use for the planters- nails would also work if you're using thick enough wood.
- Material for building planters- I'm using some recycled particle board, but plastic, thick coated cardboard, or regular plyboard would work as well.
- A saw, knife, or scissors for cutting out shapes
- A ruler
- A hexagon stencil
- A nail or drill for drainage holes
- Potting soil
- Plants or seeds- you can forage for wildflowers, buy plants, or grow your own from seed.
Step 2: Choosing Your Plants
When you're considering the plants you're using, you can look at online recourses for planting bee gardens, as well as considering native species to your area. Some suggestions that'll grow well in containers are
Feel free to use other plants as well; but keep in mind that planting bee gardens is a great way to help the planet and your own garden!
Step 3: Making the Planters
To make the planters, you'll have to start by cutting out the shapes needed- for each planter you'll need one hexagon and six rectangles in whatever scale you want your planters to be. You can also make a few planters with open tops to rest on the top of your structure. I made two full planters and four open planters. Make sure plants that go in the closed planters have enough leaves to trail out of the planter and get sun.
First trace out the shapes on your material, then cut them out carefully. Cut the hexagon in half as in the first image.
Once they're cut, drill drainage holes in each rectangle. Try to make sure the holes line up: if your hexagons won't stack on their own, you can line these holes up and stick nails through them to secure them together. The holes lining up also means that excess water from the top planters can drip down to water the ones on the bottom.
Once this is finished, attach the pieces using your glue or nails. The pictures above are some of mine in progress.
Wait for them to dry and then you can begin planting!
Step 4: Planting Your Garden
Put a few scoops of potting soil in each planter, then add your seeds or plants. Make sure the plants are in the soil deeply enough and are close enough to the sides of the planter to get sufficient sun. You can put one type of plant in each planter or mix it up- whatever appeals to you!
Step 5: Assembling the Honeycomb
Now that you've got your planters, you can stack or attach them in any order you please; it's a good idea to base this on what plants need the most sun and which need the most water- put plants that need a lot of water on the bottom of the structure so that they get some extra water from the other plants, or locate them so that rain will hit them if the plants will be in an area that gets a lot of rainfall. If the planters won't stay stacked, you can slide nails or nuts and bolts through those drainage holes to keep them a little more steady.
Step 6: Enjoy Your Bee Garden!
Now all you have to do is provide your plants with the regular care they need and wait for the bees to come! Hope this instructable was useful and easy to understand- thanks for reading!