Our Guides

How to get your garden buzzing with bees

  • Difficulty - Medium
  • Wildlife Connections Guide
  • Habitat - Bee Garden

Bees like lots of different types of plant and so having a good variety is important.

There’s a long list of good bee plants to choose from compiled by the Royal Horticultural Society, which tells you which plants a good for different seasons, for example, growing English Lavender and Poppies in the summer and Crocus and Tree Ivy in the winter.

Not using pesticides is also a good way to protect your garden and the bees.

Or you could buy or make a bee house using our step-by-step guides below.

How to build a wooden block bee house

Step 1 - Materials

  • 4x4 inch block of untreated wood (or a large log)
  • 5/16 inch or 7/16 inch drill bits
  • 6x6 inch plank for a roof (or a log for a roof) (optional)
  • Screws for mounting

Step 2

  • Drill holes of varying sizes into a block of wood, leaving about ¾ inch between the holes.
  • Do not drill through the block as bees will not use it if open at both ends.

Step 3

  • Choose the east or southeast side of a building, fence or tree, with some shelter if possible.
  • Angle down slightly to prevent water from entering the holes if not adding a roof.

Step 4

  • Mount the house with the bottom 3 to 5 ½ feet about the ground.

Step 5

  • Observe the bees to check if they are using the house.
  • Notice what plants the bees like and add more to your garden.

Step 6

  • Check the house a few times a year to make sure it is in order

How to build a plastic bottle and bamboo/hollow stem bee house

Step 1 – materials

  • Empty plastic bottle
  • Bundles of bamboo or dead stems
  • Saw
  • Screws

Step 2

  • Cut the top off a large empty plastic bottle.
  • The bottle will lay on the side when in use by the bees, so you could leave a lip on the open end of the bottle to act as a roof at the entrance, to protect the woof and stems inside by stopping rain getting into the bee house.

Step 3

• Trim the dead stems or bamboo sticks to a length slightly shorter than the length of the bottle to make sure they all fit in.
• Try to use stems and bamboo with different widths as different bees will use different sizes.

Step 4

• Pack stems and bamboo into the plastic bottle so that they tightly sit together.
• Ripped up newspaper or straw can be used to fill any gaps between the stems and plastic bottle, ensuring a snug fit.

Step 5

• Choose the east or southeast side of a building, fence or tree, with some shelter if possible.
• Angle down slightly to prevent water from entering the holes if not adding a roof.

Step 6

• Mount the house with the bottom 3 to 5 ½ feet about the ground.

How to build an easy hollow stem bee house

Step 1 – materials

• Bamboo or hollow stems (or mix of both)
• Twine/string

Step 2

• Cut bamboo or hollow stems to the same length (roughly between 10 and 20 cm)

Step 3

• Bundle bamboo and hollow stems together, and wrap and hold together with twine or string

Step 4

• Place the bundle of bamboo and hollow stems in a sunny place where they will be protected from the rain

How to build a plant pot bee house

Step 1 – materials

• An old plant pot
• Something to act as a roof, such as a plastic bottle or rocks
• Bedding material, such as straw or cut up newspaper

Step 2

• Fill an old plant pot with bedding material, such as straw or cut up strips of newspaper

Step 3

• Place the plant pot with the bedding material inside, upside down in a sunny spot

Step 4

• Protect the hole at the top of the bee house (base of the plant pot) from rain by covering with some rocks or using the cut off wide of a plastic bottle. Make sure the hole is protected from the rain, but leave enough room for bees to still get into the bee house through the hole in the plant pot.

How to build an advanced level plant pot bee house

Step 1 - materials

• An old plant pot
• Something to act as a roof, such as a large rock
• Bedding material, such as straw or cut up newspaper
• Section of hose pipe

Step 2

• Fill an old plant pot with bedding material, such as straw or cut up strips of newspaper

Step 3

• Find a sunny spot in the garden for the bee house and dig a hole about a third the height of the plant pot.

Step 4

• Place section of hose pipe into the hole so that one end is in the hole and the other is out of the hole on the surface

Step 5

• Place the plant pot with the bedding material inside, upside down, with the end of the hose pipe in the hole underneath the middle of the plat pot.

Step 6

• Fill in the hole with soil, covering up to about a third the height of the sides of the plant pot, ensuring that the top end of the hose pipe is left open and not covered. This will allow bees to enter and exit the bug house.

Step 7

• Cover the hole at the top of the bee house (in the base of the flower pot) with a roof, such as with a large rock, to protect the bedding from rain.

What to do next

Now that you've created your bee house it's really important to us that you let us know using this form (you can upload a photo too).

Record your action

By keeping track of where amazing people like you are creating wildlife friendly spaces we can see the impact we're having.

And don't forget to keep recording the wildlife you see in your local area here: www.chesterzoo.org/record

References

Wildflower Center - How to make a native bee nesting house

foe.co.uk - How to make a bee hotel

Gardeners World - How to make a bumblebee nest