I am not a joiner. Group think of any kind scares me. So it’s no wonder that I have a soft spot in my heart for the various species of solitary bees (carpenter, leafcutter, mason bees). No hive mind, no slavish droning for these tiny ronin. They do the same important pollinating work as other bees, but they fly solo. As concerns continue to mount over the ecological dangers that bees of all species might be in (and us by extension), lots of people are starting to look into what we humans can do to give the bees a little boost. Turns out, it’s quite easy and fun to build what are called bee hotels, little birdhouse-like dwellings for sheltering solitary bees.
Building a bee hotel really couldn’t be easier. You’re basically looking to create a series of tunnels for the bees to inhabit. You can use many tube-like materials: drilled out dowels, brick, holes drilled in logs, hollowed out bamboo, etc. You can roof it if you like, or bundle it inside of an interesting container. As you can see from the above video, there’s a great variety of structures that you can build. Have fun with it. And, as they point out in the video, bee hotels also make unique and thoughtful presents.
This project article from Make: Volume 38 shows you how to create a simple, roofed bee hotel out of a bundle of bamboo stems.
This little pink-roofed hotel was made out of a drilled block of wood and twigs.
Here’s a short Instructable on how to build a bee hotel out of a spare masonry brick.
Why stop at bees? There are all sorts of other beneficial critters you can invite to shack up in your garden by building a swanky 5-star bug hotel.
Another gracious thing you can do for beekind is to provide safe places for them to drink water. Here’s how to create a safe watering hole for the thirsy little pollinators.