DIY: Make a Bee House with Recycled Materials

The Mason bee is a common name for species of bees. They are named from their habit of making compartments of mud in their nests, which are made in hollow reeds or holes in wood made by wood-boring insects. For this specific reason, it is very easy to build a house for the Mason bee, they are not too picky and they would for sure, love to have a place to stay in your yard!

 

Idea for teachers: Start a Mason Bee House project!

You can also use this opportunity to talk about recycling and how it is important for our environment.

MATERIALS:
  • Medium size can
  • 2 rolls of toilet paper (empty)
  • Sheets of paper
  • Gorilla glue (or other kid-friendly glue)
  • Tape
  • Paint for the tin can (optional)

/!\ Make sure to grind the edges of the can, they can be sharp.

 

1. Paint the can (optional)

If you decide to paint the can, we recommend to do it first. You can do different design or just plain color.

mason bee house12. Create litter paper rolls

Measure the length of your can (1) and cut your paper in a way that the length of the paper roll will fit inside the can. The band of paper should be ~5 inches long (half the length of a sheet of paper). The goal is to have a roll of 5 layers minimum (2). Cut the paper as efficiently as you can.

Roll the paper around a pencil to get the right shape, then tape edge of the paper band to the roll to keep the diameter, remove the pencil. Create rolls of 1/4in up to 1/2in. You will need ~30 rolls, depending on the size of your tin can and paper rolls.

mason bee house3. Place the rolls inside the can

You can apply a thin layer of glue at the bottom of your can. Place your 2 toilet paper rolls where you wish inside the can (3) and fill up the empty space with your paper rolls.

Once done shake your can slightly and make sure that everything stays in place. Add more glue at the bottom or more paper rolls to keep things sturdy if needed.

4. Find a location

The new mason bee house needs to be in an open, sunny spot which isn’t shaded by plants, about 3ft from the ground. The fixing must be secure – the can shouldn’t flap and move about in the wind.

 

tin can with plant stemsYou can create a “fancier” Mason Bee House:

Enjoy a wander around your garden (or along a lane) and collect as many dead and hollow plant stems as you can find. You need stems in all sizes with holes from around 1/8in up to 1/2in in diameter. The stems must be dry, hollow and smooth on the inside. Good stems: Japanese knotweed (dead), stinging nettle, foxglove, hogweed and Iris sibirica.

 

 



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