Insect or bee hotel – I have made one and so can you

By Jeff Howes

Insect hotel, image Jeff Howes

During a recent trip to Europe, I noticed a lot of quite large, home-made bee ‘hotels’. On my return, I undertook a bit of research and I found some excellent information on different home-made ‘hotels’ in the EU and UK.

After looking at all the pictures on that site, I decided to make one myself, to hopefully provide a home to our native solitary bees and other insects as they are important pollinators and pest controllers in gardens. They need to be encouraged as tidy gardens, lawns and lack of dead wood, mean less and less habitat for them.

The technical details of my ‘hotel’ are as follows:

  • The back of the hotel is the same as the front.
  • The three drill diameters used to drill the wood were: 3.3mm, 6.5mm and 11mm. Depth of the holes were the drill length.
  • The sections of timber are old chemical free pine or Oregon.
  • The upright branches and the branches in the 50mm diameter plastic tubes were from the weedy Lantana plant. The soft core of the horizontal branches, were drilled out but not the vertical branches.
  • The ‘hotel’ sits on a 200×50 hardwood base.
  • I sited the ‘hotel’ in my garden so it receives dappled morning sun and full afternoon sun. Not ideal, as apparently it should be in a position that receives full sun, as the bees only become active around 18oC and above. A position that receives full sun is not possible in my northern Sydney suburban garden due to neighbouring trees.
Closeup of insect hotel, image Jeff Howes

A few unanswered questions:

  • Will it work? Time will tell and apparently it can take up to 12 months to weather and lose its ‘newness’ before the tenants decide to call it home. Then again, there may be no native bees or other small insects to use it.
  • Should it be higher off the ground?
  • If it does not work, will it be the home to ants (hope not)?
  • Should it have a night light for those ‘guests’ returning back late (just joking).