Use Scrap Wood to Make a Native Bee House

Honeybees get all of the attention, but the truth is we should be thinking more about our native pollinators-especially our native bees.
To do this we need to do a few things. First, stop using chemicals in our yards and gardens. Second, landscape with plants that attract and feed them. Third, provide areas for shelter and nesting. All of these things are pretty easy to achieve-even providing areas for shelter or nesting. One way you can do this is by taking a log and drilling random holes in it and placing it somewhere in your landscape:
Another way is by building them a home. With a few scraps of untreated wood you can build a house for the native bees to nest in. This is quick and easy and doesn't really require much skill (otherwise I would have never been able to do it).

For this project you will need a few things:

1. Scrap wood-I used an untreated piece of 4x4 I had laying around but a 4x6 would be better-it should also be at least 6 in long and can be as long as you would like. I have seen them 3 feet long. You will also need a piece of wood for the roof-I used cedar shake.
2. A couple nails and a couple screws.

3. A saw

4. A drill and drill bits (drill bit size 1/4 to 5/16 in)

To begin building your house you need to first cut your 4x4 or 4x6 so that the top will have an angel (so water will run off). I had a piece of wood that was bigger so I just cut it in half at an angle:
Next you need to begin drilling holes in the wood. These should be at least 3 1/2 inches deep (5 1/2 would be better if your wood is thicker)-just be sure not to drill all the way through the wood. I used 5/16 in (you can use a smaller one-not larger) drill bit for my holes. You can make a random pattern of holes or you can use a template. I used a pegboard as my template (copied it on to paper with pencil).
After you have drilled the holes you need to measure and cut the wood for the roof. Have it overhang a little to give some protection from the rain.
Attach the roof to the block using nails or screws.
After you have the roof attached you need to securely attach the hanger. I used a soda can tab (works great) and screws.
Now it should be ready to take outside and hang. A South or Southeast facing position is best.
I put it out now because the native bees will be out and nesting before you know it and I want to be prepared for them. So try to get this or any other bee house out before March.

This is a cheap and easy project that you can do in minutes. I think it looks pretty good considering my woodworking abilities. Not only does this project reuse some of the wood leftover from other projects it also helps out my native bee population. I hope you try this out and let me know how it works for you. You can see more pics of this project or other projects over on my blog:
Rhonda B
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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  • Genna Scartaccini Genna Scartaccini on Feb 19, 2015
    this is great. In my area I collect century plant stalks or yucca stalks after they bloom and just place them around the yard - some times I drill a hole or two but we have black wood borer bees that do the drilling and pretty soon other native bees come to check it out.

  • What a great project for the garden!