Things to think about
The native bee population in the UK has decreased significantly in recent years, partly because of a loss of habitat, so by building a bee hotel you’ll be creating a safe place for them to hibernate and lay eggs.
There are several things to bear in mind before building a bee hotel. Solitary bees are cold blooded, so will appreciated a warm and sunny location. It’s best to position the hotel facing south or east so that it can catch the morning sun. Hang your bee hotel at least 1 meter off the ground and in a sheltered area near a bee hotspot, like a flowerbed or vegetable patch. Make sure that it is securely fixed, so it doesn’t sway in the wind.
When building the bee hotel, choose a sound and level surface to assemble your workbench. By using a workbench, you will be able to secure the wood, which will help you to saw accurately and safely as well as clamp the small logs you’ll need to drill.
It's important to keep the bee hotel as dry as possible, so you should store it in a cool, dry place over winter - a shed, garage or unheated porch is ideal.
Making the job go smoothly
Instead of using a ruler to create straight lines when marking wood, a helpful tip is to use the 90-degree guide marker on your saw. Also, always clearly mark the wood before sawing so you have a guideline to follow. To prolong the life of the bee hotel, use both wood adhesive and panel pins when joining the sections, this will help to make it sturdier. You should paint the bee hotel with garden paint to stop the wood from attracting moisture.
To reduce the chances of splintering the wood, we suggest lightly tapping down the head of the panel pins before using them.
Make sure you firmly secure the wood or logs, before sawing and drilling and take care when hammering in the pins. Also, it's best to wear safety glasses whenever you use the power drill.
Preparing the bee hotel
Using the 18x144x1800mm wood, measure 400mm from the end and draw a mark.
From the mark, draw a line across the 144mm side; this will be the sawing guideline. Use the 90-degree guide marker on the saw to draw this line accurately.
Turn the wood on its side so the 18mm face in pointing upwards. Then, measure 18mm along from the line on the 144mm side and mark on the 18mm face.
Using a ruler as a guideline, connect the two lines to form a small triangle. This will act as your 45 degree guide when sawing the side of the bee hotel.
Turn the wood so the unmarked 144mm face is pointing upwards, and continue the second line you drew on the 18mm side all the way along it. Now, continue both lines from the 144mm faces down onto the unmarked 18mm side, and as you did before, form another small triangle guide.
Secure the wood in the workbench clamps and line up your saw with the diagonal line. Be sure to follow all the guidelines as you go. Alternatively you can use a mitre box or mitre saw to achieve this cut.
Once cut, remove the wood from the clamps and lay flat. Place the cut section on top of the original plank and line up the two angles.
Using the base of the cut section, mark a line on the longer plank so that both sides will be exactly the same length. Secure, and saw along your guideline.
You will now have the two pieces of wood that will form the sides of your bee hotel. If there are any slightly uneven edges, then smooth them down with sandpaper as you go.
Using the remaining section of the 18x144mm wood, measure 108mm from the end, then draw your sawing guideline.
From the end of the wood measure 216mm upwards and again, draw the guideline.
Secure the wood and saw down the two lines. These two sections will form the shelves of the bee hotel. Once sawn, place the shelves to one side.
Using the remaining wood, mark out a line 144mm from the end. This section will form the base. Secure, and saw down the marked line.
Assembling the bee hotel
The sides & base:
Take 4 panel pins and one by one, put them base down on a hard surface and lightly tap the sharp end with a hammer. This will slightly blunt the panel pin to stop the wood from splintering. You’ll need to repeat this for all the panel pins.
Prepare the base section by lightly tapping a panel pin into place in each corner, but don’t hammer them in yet.
Then apply wood glue for extra strength, repeat this for all joins in the bee hotel.
Secure the side pieces one at a time and line up the base section. Check you are happy with its positioning before hammering the pins into place.
Measure 150mm from the base of the bee hotel and mark on both sides. This line is where you will position the bottom of your first shelf.
Measure 300mm from the base and again, mark on both sides.
Add wood glue before lining the bottom of the shelves up with the marks you made.
Turn the bee hotel on its side. Prepare eight panel pins then hammer two pins into the side of each shelf on both sides.
The roof & backboard:
Measure and mark 180mm from the end of the 18x200mm timber and draw a saw guideline.
Measure and mark 342mm from the end and draw a saw guideline.
Secure wood into workbench and saw down the two lines. These sections will form your roof panels.
To attach the roof sections together, tack three panel pins into the longer piece of wood where the two sections will eventually join. Then, apply wood glue to the shorter section and secure it in your workbench.
Line up the two sections at a right angle and hammer the panel pins through.
Lay the remaining piece of 18x144mm timber onto the workbench and place the bee hotel on top and line up the edges.
Put the roof into place and mark the outline of the roof onto the backboard.
Remove the roof and bee hotel. Secure the backboard into the workbench and saw down the marked lines to remove all excess wood.
Tack 4 panel pins into the peak of the backboard. Then, apply some wood glue to the roof.
Hold the backboard in place and hammer the pins through.
To attach the backboard and roof to the bee hotel, put the hotel face down on the workbench. Apply wood glue to the sides.
Place the backboard and roof into position on top of the bee hotel. Let the roof overhang the edge of the backboard in order to be flush to the bee hotel. Check all edges are aligned.
Hammer 8 panel pins at equal spaces into the backboard to secure it to the bee hotel.
Using the drill and 10mm flat wood drill bit, drill a hole in the centre of the backboard just below the peak of the roof. This hole will be used to hang the bee hotel.
Decorating the bee hotel:
Place the bee hotel on an offcut of wood whilst painting to avoid getting paint on your workbench.
Paint all surfaces of the bee hotel, even areas that are out of sight. Any unpainted wood will attract moisture that could damage the bee hotel. Once painted, leave to dry for at least one hour before filling.
Filling the bee hotel:
Measure a piece of bamboo to 140mm and saw off. Use this as your size marker when sawing off other sections of bamboo and logs. Place the cut sections to one side until it’s time to fill the bee hotel.
To drill the holes in the log, secure the sawn log in a clamp and, using the 10mm flat wood drill bit, drill deep holes into one of the logs faces.
Once the paint is dry, fill the bee hotel with the bamboo, logs and bark.
Hanging the bee hotel:
Hammer a 75mm round head nail into the selected tree or fence and hang the bee hotel onto the nail.