Bee accommodation

3 types of solitary bee accomodation you can make at home

Flowers – check! Shrubs – check! Herbs – check! You’ve prepared or planted your garden with these pollinator staples – but have you thought about lending a hand with some hand-made constructed homes?

There are numerous homes you can build for a wide array of bees and other invertebrates. A key requirement of native solitary bees, and one that is often overlooked, is the availability of suitable nesting habitat. Sometimes called ‘bee hotels’, they are artificial nesting structures made from wood, reeds, rammed earth or sand that are attractive to bees and other insects which use similar structures in nature to create their nests.

Three different boutique ‘bee suites’ suit a range of native bees. For the 1600 or more native bees in Australia, when it comes to homes, big isn’t always best. It is not a case of one size fits all. Bees are better serviced by smaller boutique accommodation. Larger hotels can provide a place for larger predators to set up shop – such as wasps and spiders.

Additionally, it is recommended that ‘hotels’ be raised off the ground and mounted to a pole (or a simple star picket) as an ant guard, as when natural objects such as logs or rocks are used as a platform for the hotel, ants often find their way in and take up residency.

Give your hotel a roof so it stays dry, and don’t use toxic paints or varnishes. Place your insect hotel in a sheltered spot, with the opening facing the sun in cool climates, and facing the morning sun in warmer climates.

1. Stick and stem suite:

  • Suits resin, leaf cutter and carpenter bees who nest in hollow, dead pithy stems and branches
  • Can replicate by binding together sticks that are hollow inside

2. Block suite:

  • Suits resin, masked, wasp mimics and leaf cutter bees
  • Use blocks of untreated wood and drill holes of 140 mm depth with a different range of hole sizes
  • Mimic nature – holes should be organically placed

3. Bricks and mortar suite:

  • Suits blue-banded bees who gravitate towards naturally clay rich soils
  • Mix 7 parts of bricky sand to 1 part garden clay. Add water for firm consistency and then stack into open-ended containers such as PVC pipes, Bessa bricks or old terracotta pipes. Push in holes before it sets hard – 8 mm wide and 10 – 15 cm deep with metal rods or pencils.