Make Your Own Little Bee Houses




Introduction: Make Your Own Little Bee Houses

About: I enjoy nature, science, classic rock, food, and having a good time. I don't have much of an imagination, but I am resourceful. I usually don't go for perfection, but merely to get the job done. I hope to pu...
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

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!



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    44 Discussions

    Concerning mason and leaf cutter bee houses are nothing but parasitic wasp paradise. I've never gotten either of these to over winter without parasitic wasp destroying them. Its to much egg laying in one area parasitic wasp magnet. In the wild they hide nests much better and lay small amount of eggs in various locations insuring some survive. Just another gimmick to get your money and when you find out the truth its already money in their pocket or time wasted building and buying materials.

    Wonderful and decent idea, I found this much helpful bee houses ideas. The perfect size house for any garden and orchard. Thanks for such post and keep it up.


    Can anyone tell me how well bee homes like these actually work, and if so, how many bees you would have nesting? I am very interested in building one and would love to see if it has obvious positive results.

    1 reply

    They work, but only to an extent. If you want to be serious about helping these nomadic bees, then build something that accommodates those removable paper tubes so you can clean them each year, or something made of layers of wood that you can disassemble to clean. There is a lot more than meets the eye concerning these guys and I encourage you to look at several sites to research.

    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.

    2 replies

    These are designed for Mason Bees which pollinate apples and other very early flowering fruits in northern latitudes. Without Mason Bees doing their pollinating, the honey bees would come on the scene much too late to do the job.

    Sure, some wasps may (or may not) come, but these are habitats designed for the early pollinators- Mason Bees.

    Did they perhaps look like this:
    These are leafcutter bees. If you see tiny wasps emerging, they may have been the victim of parasitizing wasps (see later comment.)

    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:
    and here:
    No, I don't work for them but seriously admire his BeeGAP program and his knowledge.

    2 replies

    Some articles advise lining the holes (an pre-drilling them slightly larger) with paper tube inserts, and then removing and replacing the paper liners once a year. This appears to prevent disease for these Mason Bee homes.

    Mason Bees, are not honeybees which most people have seen in hive boxes.

    I used your instructions to build a little bee house with my daughter, thank you very much :)

    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

    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.

    2 replies

    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.

    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.

    1 reply

    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.

    Do they pay rent?

    ...and you would want venomous insects flying around your house, why?