May 20th is World Bee Day, and to celebrate, we’re sharing an easy DIY Bee Hotel project to help the abundance of native bees in your yard!
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF WORLD BEE DAY?
World Bee Day aims to raise awareness for the vital role bees and other pollinators play in keeping our planet healthy. It encourages governments, organisations and people to take action to protect pollinators and their habitats. Improving the abundance and diversity of wild species and supporting sustainable beekeeping.
Australia is home to more than 1,600 species of native bees, the majority of which are solitary. Unlike honeybees, solitary bees build their own nests, but they also appreciate man-made bee hotels. These hotels mimic a stack of reeds or plant stems that a bee might find in the wild.
STEP 1: PLAN LOCATION AND GATHER MATERIALS
Lodge your DIY bee hotel horizontally on a branch or other similar location where it is protected and easy to see the holes. Ideally, secure your native bee hotel facing northeast, allowing for morning sun and afternoon shade. Hang the hotel between 1–2 metres off the ground and make sure the hotel cannot swing as bees will find it challenging to fly in and out.
An easy DIY to help native bee populations. Wherever possible, upcycle items you have lying around to reduce waste. We have chosen durable PVC piping to hold up in harsher weather conditions.
You will need:
STEP 2: WEATHERPROOF THE PVC PIPE
Create an overhang by cutting one end of a PVC pipe at an angle. The bees will need a minimum of 200 mm to nest with an overhang of about 50 mm. This will protect bees from harsh weather conditions. Cover the flat end of the pipe with a PVC cap or duct tape to ensure the hotel is waterproof.
You can choose to paint and decorate your native bee hotel to make it even more inviting. If you are painting, keep in mind to use pet-friendly paint or low VOC paint.
STEP 3: FILL WITH PAPER STRAWS
Fill the open end of the PVC pipe with paper straws. If needed, cut down the straws to size to fit inside the DIY bee hotel (approx. 200 mm). To reduce movement between the straws, fill them as tight as possible without crumpling them (be sure to use uncoated paper straws, plastic or wax-coated paper straws can get too hot, and the bee larva might die). We used approx. 80 straws, but this might change depending on the diameter of straws you use.
STEP 4: DIY BEE HOTEL INSTALLATION AND MAINTENANCE
Lodge your new native bee hotel to your chosen location! Remember to hang the hotel around eye level. Tada! You’ve just built a spot for bees to visit your garden.
Bee Hotel Tips:
- Don’t try to attract bees to the hotel—if it is there, and they need it—they will come
- You can set up multiple small hotels scattered around your garden about 20 metres apart. This will reduce crowding and the spread of parasites and disease
- Other creatures might also like to stay in your hotel, like spiders. Try to remove unwanted guests as safely as possible
- Be patient and don’t clean out your hotel right away! Bees use the hotel to lay their eggs in brood cells, resulting in multiple eggs in each straw and more than one larva emerging as a bee. Leave the paper straws until they are definitely empty
- Look for a small cap at the end of a paper straw. This is the sign a bee has laid its eggs and sealed off its brood cells
- Once all bees emerge, you can clean out your hotel for the next season of occupants
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
If you are interested in World Bee Day and would like to learn more about native Australian bee species and how to best maintain your bee hotel, visit the sites below and become an expert!