Bee Friendly: Create Nesting Homes for Bees

bees by David Hoffman flickr 1156x650

In backyards everywhere, bees are on the lookout for nesting homes. And YOU can help them!

What You Need

  • For the Bumblebee Pot: Clay pot at least 6 inches across and deep; cork that fits in pot’s drain hole; nesting material such as a handful of dry fine grass or moss, lint from a clothes dryer or upholsterer’s cotton; flat rock or board at least 8 inches square
  • For the Block Home: Block of wood about 6 inches square and 7 or 8 inches long (pine is best but do not use pressure-treated wood); strip of wood about 10 inches long; set of drill bits (1/8 up to 5/16″)
  • For the Cane Condo: Hollow bamboo canes with 1/4 to 1/2-inch openings; twine; plastic 1/2 gallon milk jug or coffee can

What You Do

  1. Native bees are good to have around. Here’s your chance to be a backyard bee buddy! How? By building places for native bees to raise their young in. At least 4,000 species (kinds) of native bees live in North America. And many of them look for beetle tunnels in dead trees and the hollow stems of plants to nest in. You can help by creating extra holes for them to use.


    • Find a dry, shady plot of ground in your yard. Lay the flat rock or board on the ground.
    • Lay the handful of nesting material on top of it. (Material should be 2 to 3 inches deep.)
    • Put the pot upside down over the nesting material. The edge of the pot should hang over the edge of the rock or board. Leave just enough space for bumblebees to get in and out (about the thickness of your thumb).
    • Plug up the pot’s drain hole with the cork.
    • bee art

    AT HOME IN A BLOCK (for leaf-cutters, masons, and other native bees)

    • Drill holes of different sizes into one end of the wood cube. Make holes 4-5 inches deep and about a half inch apart.
    • Nail the strip of wood to the back of the block and then nail the strip to the side of a building or to a tree. (The nails won’t hurt the tree.)
    • Put the block where it gets morning sun but shade the rest of the day.
      bee home but shade the rest of the day.bee block

    CANE CONDO(for mason, cellophane, and leaf-cutter bees)

    • Cut off the pouring end of the milk jug.
    • Cut the canes into 6-inch lengths and put enough into the jug or can to fit tightly.
    • Use the twine to tie the jug or can firmly to a tree or post in a shady place.bee condoBy Sharon Lovejoy; art by Jack Desrocherbee by josh mayes