Inspired by a talk from Brigit Strawbridge I decided to make bee hotels for the garden. We already have a couple of ceramic ones which we were given for Christmas two years ago. I thought I might make some as Christmas gifts as Brigit had suggested in her bee talk. As always, I like to make things out of junk and it is that time of year to increase the opportunities for wild creature habitat in the garden. After all, it’s their garden too.
I found some old plastic cider bottles, a bit of carpet and polystyrene to make up some ‘hotels’. These materials had been sitting around for several years and were unlikely to be leeching anything toxic for the bees, who already have quite enough to deal with, with all of the poisons put into pesticides which they have to encounter in their day-to-day existence.
I chose bottles because I thought they offered better weather protection than the open-ended drainpipe which Brigit had bought to her talk as an example. I cut the bottoms off each and fitted them to the old polystyrene and carpet circles I had cut out, which were nailed to wooden bases for later mounting.
I had a number of dried-out fennel stems from last year and a few lengths of bamboo which seemed to have the right aperture holes for small bees. I bound these together to saw off lengths for insertion into the sawn-off bottles, checking each individually to make sure there were holes, eg the bamboo was not sawn on a joint, blocking off the hole. It surprised me how quickly my entire stash of bamboo and fennel sticks were used up and I only had enough for three bottle bee hotels. I pushed in extra lengths from the top to wedge the sticks in the bottle and then inserted some long panel pins through the bottom of the bottles into the polystyrene to fix them in place. I made some holes along what would become the bottom ‘side’ of the bottles to drain out any water or evaporation that might collect.
I thought I could make some ‘flowers’ to mount on the top of the bottles since our existing bee hotel literature said that bees like something to aim for and somewhere to land before entering. I cut some petal shapes out of small plastic flowerpots and then noticed an old, textile flower which I stripped down and added to the entrances, jamming the petals down with the lid from each bottle with the centre cut out.
Now to find some places to put these these, kind of quiet and out of the way. I will be checking the hotels regularly to see if they have any guests and should be able to tell because the holes in the hollow sticks will be bunged-up with mud.
I shall make some other varieties of bee hotel later and add results to this post. What better way to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon than making temporary homes for bees?
To find out more about bees, soil, permaculture, food, ethics, animal rights, growing food, sustainable living and more take a visit to Brigit Strawbridge’s Blog here: