When you think of a bee, what do you picture? Most likely, it’s the hardworking bumblebee or sweet honeybee that spring to mind. But did you know, these only make up 10% of the bee species in the UK. In total, there are 250 species of bees that live in Britian, and most of them live a solitary life. So, let’s help these little gals by building them their very own bee hotel for your garden!
Why are bees important?
Bees play an incredibly important part in our ecosystem as well as food supply. How? By pollinating plants!
What is pollination? It’s when pollen is taken from one plant and added to another plant of the same type so that it can make seeds. It’s the yellow fluffy stuff that you see on a bee’s legs and is what makes everyone sneeze in the spring and summer.
It is estimated that 80% of plants need to be pollinated by animals (and that includes bees). Without them, many of the fruits and veggies we know and love wouldn’t exist, and we’d be left with very few plants to sustain us. This includes broccoli, asparagus, cucumber, pears, apples, and tomatoes, along with a whole list of other well-known faves. Basically, we need bees. So, it’s important that we help them in any way we can (and have fun doing it!).
Why you should build a bee hotel
When solitary bees are ready to nest, some species excavate their own nests in the ground, where they lay their eggs and live until their babies hatch.
Other types of solitary bees find already made cavities like old beetle holes, tunnels, and hollowed out stems. These are the type of bees we will be helping with this activity!
How to build a bee hotel
What you’ll need:
- • A washed-out tin can – yesterday’s bean tin will work just fine!
- • Hollow canes OR rolled up paper– The hollow canes can be hollow bamboo reeds, or even dried flower stems from plants such as sunflowers, brambles, or fennel. Have a look in your garden to see if you can find any! If you’d rather use paper, roll them up tightly around a pencil and use tape to secure it.
- • Secateurs – make sure to help your kiddos out with this part
What to do:
- 1. Measure from the bottom of the can to 1cm below the top. This is how long your cane will be.
- 2. If using a hollow cane:
- • With an adult’s help, carefully cut the cane to this length. It helps if there are multiple sizes of cane holes, with a wide range for bee species to choose from. Keep the short lengths of cane too, we’ll be using those a bit later!
- • Pack the tin can with the cane until it is tightly packed. Any leftover space can be filled with the shorter pieces of cane.
- 3. If using paper:
- • Measure the length of the can and cut the paper into strips that are 1cm shorter than the length of the can.
- • Using a pencil, roll the paper around the pencil to create a tube shape. You’ll want around 30 rolls.
- • Take your rolled up pieces of paper and create bundles of about 10 rolls and secure with paper tape.
- • Dab a bit of glue at the bottom of the tin can and place the bundles into the bottom.
- • Let it fully dry.
- 4. Have your kids decorate the can however they like. The bees deserve a warm welcome!
- 5. Find a sheltered sunny spot and attach the hotel about 1 meter off the ground. Make sure it’s secure so it doesn’t blow in the wind.
Download your own activity to print and share, below. And when you’re done with this activity, be sure to snap a pic and tag us on Instagram (@modernmilkman_) – we’d love to see what you come up with!