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.
- 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
Step 1: 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
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
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
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
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!
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
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!