Make your garden bee friendly with this fun project
Making a bee B&B not only gives you an excuse to get the whole family out into the garden, it’s also an easy way to make your garden bee friendly.
There are loads of ways that bees help us out, like pollinating more than a third of the plants we then turn into food. Their natural habitat is declining, so giving up a little of your garden for our stripy friends will help them, and you! They might even lay their eggs in the cane tunnels.
Your guests will mostly be solitary bees who, unlike honey and bumble bees, don’t live in hives.
They come in all sort of colours and sizes, and they aren’t known to be aggressive either, so you don’t need to worry about your little ones around the B&B.
This is a great project for children, however craft knives and hacksaws are sharp. All tasks using sharp tools should be supervised or carried out by an adult. Always keep knives and sharp tools out of reach of children. Don’t forget that some bees can sting if disturbed. Only move a bee B&B when safe to do so.
Building your hotel
Use a craft knife to cut the top and bottom off of your plastic bottle, leaving you with a plastic cylinder. Cutting both ends off not only prevents water collecting in the bottom of the bottle, but it also gives the bees two entrances.
Cut your bamboo canes with a handsaw so that they are about 3cm shorter than the length of the cylinder, this will protect them from the rain. Cut up a mixture of thin and wide canes so the bees have a choice of hole sizes.
It can be a bit tricky to cut bamboo without splintering, so secure your cane in a vice and carefully use a craft knife to score the cane first all the way around where you want it cut. Saw slowly with a hacksaw, and if it starts to splinter, stop and use your knife again to re-score the cane before continuing.
Smooth the cut ends of your bamboo with fine grit sandpaper wrapped around a sanding block.
Pack the cylinder tightly with the cut canes until they are securely wedged in place.
Wrap strong twine around the centre of the filled cylinder so you can hang up your bee B&B.
Opening your hotel for visitors
Hang your bee B&B at least 1 metre above the ground and try to position it somewhere where it will get plenty of sun (south facing is best) and out of the wind. It’s a good idea not to have any vegetation blocking the entrance, as bees will be put off if there’s anything in the way.
If you haven’t already, introduce more bee-friendly flowers and shrubs near to your bee B&B. Female bees will leave nectar and pollen in the canes for their grubs to feed on.
Check inside the canes on rainy days and you might see your bees sheltering from the rain. In the winter, you can carefully move your B&B somewhere dry and sheltered until the weather starts to warm up in the spring. This will help protect your nesting bees.