Did you know you and your kids can make a special house for bees? This isn’t the bee habitat used by those raising bees for honey; this bee house simply provides a safe place for bees to raise their young.
From the National Wildlife Federation, here’s how:
- Take some scrap lumber and drill several 3 to 5 inch deep holes in it—BUT NOT ALL THE WAY THROUGH.
- Cover the structure with chicken wire to protect it from birds and other larger wildlife.
- Place the house on the south side of a building, like your house! Or on a fence post or a tree. Attach it securely.
- Some DO NOTs:
- Do not move the bee house once it is established until at least November.
- Do not use insecticides near the bee house.
- Do not use treated wood to build it.
The Nifty Homestead website encourages you to build “insect hotels,” made from upcycled materials placed between layers of sturdy protective material like old pallets, in which bees can overwinter. Why are insect hotels a good idea? Nifty Homesteader explains: “Insect hotels provide safe areas for solitary insects to hibernate over winter. Big lawns and the lack of dead wood in our yards leaves wild bees, spiders, and ladybugs without a place to live. Building accommodations for beneficial insects like ladybugs or flying pollinators can help benefit both your environment and your garden in the spring.”
When you make a “hotel” for solitary bees (bees whose females are all fertile and build separate nest cells for the baby bees), put it in a location that is sunny but sheltered from harsh weather. Wood nester bees like to nest in cavities they find, like hollow stems or holes in wood. The female will then create individual compartments for each egg. As she goes out to find pollen and nectar for the brood, she pollinates various plants and food crops. She puts nectar and pollen in each compartment before laying an egg in it. You can make a “bee hotel” using materials you find at home or out on a walk that either already have small compartments in them or have small spaces the female bee can then develop, or you could drill tunnels in wood, too. If you open this hotel for business, bees will “check in” for winter!