Did you know that some shop-bought bee hotels can cause more harm than good? I didn’t! You think you are doing something good, but if they are not properly maintained and checked for mites, they may cause harm to bees. I decided to make my own bee house, and I will share how you can create your very own DIY bee house too.
In this post, I will also share tips on picking the perfect plants for pollinators. Scroll below to see what plants will attract bees and insects into your garden.
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Why Are Some Shop-Bought Bee House Bad?
Some shop-bought bee houses do not come with instructions on how to care for the bee house. When they are not properly cared for, they can attract pests and become breeding grounds for mould and fungus.
Pollen mites are the biggest threat to bee houses. Pollen mites eat the pollen that the bees use to feed their young. Mites can also latch onto bees to get to the closest flower. Bees can become covered in mites!
Also, some shop-bought bee homes come with strings. A bee home needs to be sturdy and not swinging from a wire. Would you like to live in a swinging house? If your bee house knocks over in the wind, it can knock the bee larvae off their food. A sturdy bee house attached to a pole or wall will help the bees to land.
Not all shop-bought bee homes are bad. Choose ones made from strong materials and ticker cuts of wood. The bee homes in pound shops can be tacked together with nails and thin plywood. These will rot in your garden, especially in a wet and windy Irish garden.
Choose a bee house that can be opened and has removable parts. So, if you see signs of mould or mites, you can remove these parts and clean them. Something like this one.
How To Make A DIY Solitary Bee House?
In this YouTube video, I created my very own three-story air bee n bee. Complete with a bee bar and a bee buffet! Head to the bottom of this post to watch my DIY bee house video.
I used outdoor timber to construct the frame of the bee house. Using my mitre saw, I measured and cut the wood pieces to size. I used my nail gun to tack it together before securing it with deck screws. Outdoor screws are best for this project as they will be less likely to rust.
I cut thick blocks of wood to size and drilled holes for the nesting tunnels. To encourage an equal balance between male and female bees, I drill holes that are 4 inches and 6 inches deep.
You can line your tunnels with paper straws to make it easier to clean the tunnels at the end of the season.
Also, I used logs from my garden and cut them to size to fit inside the bee box. Use whatever materials you have to hand. Bamboo does not dry as quickly as other materials and may cause mould.
I covered the front of my bee house with some wire. I also feed birds in my garden, and I wanted to deter them from picking at my bee hotel. However, from doing research, most birds prefer to eat slow-moving insects. Check what birds are in your area and if they are a threat to your bee hotel.
How do you attract bees to a DIY bee house?
Make sure to position your bee house 200 to 300m away from other bee homes. Keep in mind that it can be a slow process to get your bee house occupied. I positioned my bee home in my back garden that has lots of wildflower buckets and bee-friendly plants.
A natural way to bait the bees to come to your bee hotel is to rub it with a lemon balm plant. The scent from the lemon balm plant will attract bees and they may decide to stick around!
What Plants Attract Bees To Your Garden
We often hear that bee numbers are steadily decreasing due to the effects of global warming. You will find a significant number of gardeners working round the clock to find plants that provide a favourable atmosphere for the bees as an attempt to ensure these little buzzing friends are well taken care of.
If you’re planning on getting flowering plants for your flower beds, make that choice ever-so-carefully because you will be providing a safe haven for the bees and play a small but important part in the ecosystem.
Here are some flowering plants to look for that provide healthy nectar for them to eat and promote pollination.
Also known as Wild Bergamot, the foliage of bee balm is an attractive aromatic flower that invites pollinators to your garden. These plants prefer a sunnier part of your lawn and bloom during the spring and summer seasons.
Not only extremely aesthetically pleasing to look at, but foxgloves are also tall, slender multi-flowering plants that are always surrounded by bumblebees. The tubular shape of the flower is a convenient structure for bees to crawl inside and get to the nectar without any interruptions. They also collect pollen from the flower at the same time, which is used to feed the younger bees.
Foxgloves are biennial, which means they will flower every second year.
Bluebells are popular for being insects’ favourite. They bloom in early spring and are constantly surrounded by bees, butterflies, and hoverflies. Bluebells tend to spread quite easily and when their blooming season ends, make sure to dig the bulbs out while they are in leaf.
Rosemary is a fragrant plant that you’re going to enjoy in your garden, and so will the bees! It has many culinary uses, and bees love to suck nectar from its flower bulbs. The benefit of growing a rosemary plant is two-fold; not only does the environment benefit from it, but you can use it for multiple reasons too!
Cosmos are rather simple-looking flowers, providing easy access to bees to get to their nectar. They are one of the best annual bedding plants for bees. It is a great choice to have in your garden bed, as they act as a source of food for the bees all year round.
To make your garden space look more interesting, you can get a variety of colours of cosmos to plant. Cosmos are great for cut flower beds too!
Lupine is a plant with tall, spikey flowers that bloom in late spring. These plants favour the sun so make sure to place them where the sun directly hits them in the garden.
If there is some shade, you might not see lupine bloom to its full extent. A well-draining soil and the responsibility of watering regularly comes with having this plant. The plus point is that the bees absolutely love lupine, and they look aesthetically pleasing!
Having flowering plants that favour bees and butterflies is a great way for you to help the ecosystem. The plants mentioned above make sure that all insects are healthy and act as effective pollinators.
Remember to check which plants may be toxic to cats if you have cats that roam in your garden.
I hope this post has inspired you to create a bee house! I have seen these DIY bee homes in my local area in wildflower patches. The local councils have been doing a great job at creating bee-friendly habitats. Years ago, you wouldn’t find a weed in the garden, but now we realise how important it can be for insects and wildlife survival.
Please share this post if you found it inspiring. You can also check out my DIY bee house YouTube video below. Thanks for reading! Catherine.