It’s more than common to nail a birdhouse to a tree to bring robins and bluebirds flocking to your garden, so why not do the same for bees? A new trend for building “bee hotels” to provide habitat for native pollinators is taking the Internet by storm—and with good reason. Many of the 4,000 species of bees that are native to North America are far more efficient pollinators than the European honeybee, but they’re suffering from loss of habitat due to climate change and the deadly use of Roundup and other pesticides. You can help by offering bees shelter with a bee hotel in your garden. Bonus: Your guests will help you in return by pollinating your organic veggies.
More than 90 percent of all bee species, including masons and carpenters, are solitary—meaning each female builds her own nest, though often in close proximity to other females of the same species. A bee hotel—usually some sort of box or container filled with bamboo stalks, sticks, pinecones, or logs drilled with holes—provides choice habitat and protects them from the weather. Building one only takes a little effort, and you probably already have the materials you need. Click through the slideshow to see our favorite designs made from repurposed stuff.
License plates are the perfect size for a decorative, sturdy roof in this design from craftsman Woodwerks. It wouldn’t be difficult to fashion one on your own homemade model—you could even repurpose a birdhouse for the base.
The blogger at Crafty Green Poet snapped a photo of this insect house when out for a walk in Scotland. We love that it’s a hodgepodge of stuff you can probably find in your garden shed or out in nature. You can even use broken flowerpots and other bric-a-brac that you’ve been holding onto for reuse.
This multi-storied cinderblock hotel high-rise from Little Eco Footprints uses bamboo stalks and a stump drilled with holes as nesting material for bees. It’s even thoughtfully designed with a roof to shelter them from the weather—there’ll be a wait-list to move in here.
Here’s one kids can make, too. Pack a mason jar (or tin can) tight with bamboo cut into small tubes. Find a spot to set it in the garden or suspend it from the side of the shed, and watch for bees to move in. You’ll know they’re there when you see the ends of the bamboo capped with mud.
This beautiful hotel by garden designer Catherine Clancy uses an upcycled a wine box as the base. It’s filled with bits of wood from a felled cherry tree and bamboo canes arranged artistically, making it a whimsical and practical addition to the garden.