Due to pesticide use, habitat loss, and climate change, global bee populations are rapidly declining. Detroit with its abundance of urban farming initiatives relies on local pollinators, like bees, to pollinate their fruits and vegetables. This tutorial details how to build your own small bee hotel out of recycled materials to improve the bee habitat in your own backyard! This tutorial is adapted from Bees in the D, a local nonprofit working to improve Detroit’s bee colonies through bee hives and education.
Bees in the D: https://beesinthed.com/education
Goals: Age Group: K-12
Creatively reuse recycled materials For younger children,
Increase bee habitat have an adult present to
Think critically about how your cut materials home can add to local nature!
Supplies: Time: 1-1.5 hours
A plastic bottle or metal can (at least 6 inches long, 2 inches wide)
Hollow stems, bamboo stems, paper straws (not plastic) to fill the container
String or twine
This bee hotel is for solitary bees, such as orchard mason bees. Unlike honeybees, which have a colony, these bees live alone. They make nests to lay their eggs in natural holes in trees and wood. Unlike carpenter bees, they cannot drill the holes themselves, which is where this bee hotel is incredibly helpful!
Collect materials! For hollow items, I used paper straws and explored the gardens at my house for hollow, dried stems from the previous season. Explore the nature around your home!
2. If using a plastic bottle, cut your bottle to at least 6 inches long, open on both ends. Also cut your hollow materials to this length, the goal is to have everything snug, so that your materials stay in place.
3. (Optional) Bees prefer dark spots to nest, so paint the outside of your container a dark color.
4. Tie your string or twine around the container, so that it can hang horizontally.
5. Place your bee hotel in a sheltered spot from the rain, either in a tree or under the awning of a porch or garage.
6.You’ll know that a bee has decided to nest in your hotel if you notice the holes sealed with mud or debris!
What are other ways we can improve the space around our homes for bees?
What about for other animals or plants?
Do you know of a community garden near where you live? Do you have your own?
How can your bee hotel help those gardens?