Honey Bee Houses: Benefits and How to Set Up

To help your insects survive the winter, build a bee house! Then, when the temperature warms up the following year, beneficial insects will be ready to help combat pests and pollinate crops.

A honey bee house is an enclosed birdhouse-like structure with native bee nesting materials like cardboard tubes or hollow reeds. They’re used by solitary bees, which use them to raise their young and pollinate the plants around them. Solitary bees are better pollinators than honey bees.

Insect houses provide them a warm, safe place to stay over the winter. In this article, we’ll show you how simple it is to create an insect hotel.

What are bee houses?

Bee houses, also known as bee hotels or bug hotels, resemble bird houses but draw local solitary bee species rather than birds. These solitary bees are up to three times more efficient pollinators than honey bees and are incredibly docile. 

So, no, you won’t obtain any honey, but your garden will produce more beautiful flowers, robust plants, and tastier food!

Mason bees, leafcutter bees, and miner bees are a few of the most prevalent solitary bees. Even though many of these native bees are already a part of the neighborhood ecosystem, giving them the ideal site to nest in your garden can benefit you and them.

Bee houses are made of wood and resemble birdhouses. They include materials that local bees utilize to build their nests, often hollow reeds or cardboard tubes. 

As a result, they provide the ideal environment for solitary, hole-nesting bees, among the most significant pollinators.

Benefits of bee houses

Below are some of the benefits of building of getting a bee house:

1. Help save bees

Although honeybees are essential to our ecological and food systems, they are now more threatened than ever. 2019 saw a 40% failure rate for honeybees to survive the winter. 

As such, you are contributing to the growth and betterment of the honeybee population by introducing bees to your property. 

The enhanced pollination and biodiversity will be advantageous to your local ecosystem.

2. Your garden will appreciate it

A highly effective pollinator, honeybees, will travel a distance of up to three miles in pursuit of blooms. As a direct result of the honeybees’ diligent labor, your organic food garden will exhibit enhanced output and yield more significant and consistent crops. 

3. Great experience

A beehive offers your garden a rewarding and educational experience. You and your family will get the chance to see baby bees fly for the first time in orientation, house bees clean up the hive, and nurse bees take care of the young. 

In addition, beekeeping is an excellent activity for developing family ties and new skills.

4. Honey

Oh, and don’t forget, honey! And not just any honey, but honey produced using flowers from your organic backyard garden. You can taste the differences between the seasons in honey because it is a floral fingerprint of your location.

This is artisanal honey made in small batches right in your neighborhood!

How to make a bee house

Below is a well-laid-out procedure to help you build your bee house.

1. Materials

Bug hotels can be constructed using reclaimed and organic materials, including prunings, sticks, straws, broken tiles, bricks, and discarded pieces of wood. The key is to offer different habitats to draw different kinds of insects. 

For example, hollow stems, like bamboo canes, are loved by native (or solitary) bees.

You need a plank of wood that is 120 cm (four feet) long, some thin shingles to use as roof tiles, some strong thread, and a board that is wide enough to serve as the back plate for your hotel in addition to the other materials listed above. Use natural wood to protect the insects.

You’ll need a variety of hollow stems to fill the hotel; bamboo canes are perfect for this. In addition, you’ll require a drill, a screwdriver, some screws, a hammer, tacks, and pruners.

2. Design

Bug hotels can range in size and complexity depending on the amount of space and time you have available. Most spartan hotels consist of a dry, enclosed area that has been filled with beds. 

Several materials may be layered together for more intricate lodgings to appeal to a wider variety of insect visitors. In this case, old pallets can be very helpful.

3. Building the house

First, make the walls of your hotel. Cut the long plank into four pieces, each 30 cm (about a foot) long. Then, using the screws, join them together. For each screw, you might need to drill a pilot hole before tightening it. The completed building is shown here.

When the walls are finished, affix the back plate to form a tight seal. Before fastening the plate, you can mark the footprint of the walls on it as a guide.

The roof shingles are next. To help rain flow off and keep the house’s interior dry, just overlap the shingles in place and hammer the tacks into place.

4. Add bedding

Trim bamboo stems to the proper length. In this position, the bamboo should be flush with the hotel walls. To provide a robust and sturdy finish, pack them into position. 

In the top of the back plate, drill two holes, and then insert some string through them. In between trees and shrubs is ideal, but you could even hammer your hotel into the eaves of a garden shed or other outbuilding. Finally, tie the ends into a knot and put your hotel up in a dry, protected location in full sun or dappled shade.

Bee house maintenance

Below are some simple ways to help maintain your bee house and have it flourishing:

1. Avoid massive houses

While a 4 feet wide and 6 feet tall bee house looks fantastic, attracts plenty of attention, and increases awareness of native bees, it’s far too ambitious and will probably be difficult to maintain. 

Bee houses need to be restocked with fresh nesting materials every year and, just like birdhouses, need to be cleaned out regularly across the year. 

Maintaining a bee hotel doesn’t require much work, but think about the time you can spend caring for the bees that move in. Also, make sure the size of the bee house you select is compatible with the resources the area can offer. 

2. Protect your nesting materials 

Bees that nest in holes require a dry, secure environment to call home. The ideal bee house will have a sturdy exterior with an overhang of 2-3″ to shield nesting materials from inclement weather. 

Use a wire cloth that is 1″ wide to bubble around the bee house if birds are attacking the nesting openings. Installing wire cloth flush against the nesting openings will prevent bees from entering. Therefore, avoid doing so. Bees require room to land and take off.

3. Make your nest an appropriate size and with suitable materials

The finest nesting materials are those that can be found nearby in nature. Cardboard tubes and lake reeds in the proper size range are easily accessible online for hole-nesting bees. 

Stay away from bamboo and plastic straws since they don’t allow enough moisture to evaporate, which is problematic for developing bees. 

Nesting holes should be around 6 inches long and range in size from 4 to 10 mm. While many bamboo shoots are considered too large for any North American bee to use, shallow nesting holes will distort the sex range of the subsequent generation of bees.

To accommodate all local solitary bees, it’s a good idea to offer various options as not all native solitary bees will use the same kind of nesting materials.

4. Location

The morning light should be facing the bee house since hole-nesting bees require the sun’s warmth to give them the energy to fly. However, even better outcomes can be obtained by positioning two bee houses, each facing a minor deviation from the others.

Most native bees appreciate a little afternoon shade, but too much shade may draw wasps that nest in holes. In a garden, solitary wasps are typically seen as helpful predators since they prey on pests like caterpillars, grubs, and aphids. They might, however, also eat the bee pupae in your bee house.

5. Protect your larvae during winter

To quickly remove filled nesting materials and store them in a warm, dry location, ensure your bee house is accessible. Nesting supplies should be kept in spaces with temperatures similar to the outdoors, such as a garden shed or an unheated garage. 

Small parasitic wasps that prey on larvae can be deterred from attacking by removing full nesting holes and securing them with a fine mesh bag.

Keep a watch on the packed nesting materials because your bees can belong to a species with numerous generations every season, like leafcutter bees.

6. Harvest your cocoon each spring

Open the materials and gather the cocoons in the early spring after securing and storing the packed nesting materials over the winter. If possible, arrange and categorize cocoons according to their appearance and the date when their nesting holes were sealed. 

If given the proper attention, these cocoons will grow into a new generation of native bee pollinators and bee house occupants.


As you can see, creating a secure environment for beneficial insects to flourish is simple. So how do you attract good insects into your garden? Please tell us  your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.

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