Keeping native non-stinging mason bees is a surprisingly easy way to help the environment, and it’s also an inexpensive and educational project for kids. The best news is that these hyper-efficient pollinators will do wonders for your fruit crops and gardens!
This is a fun and easy project that small bees will love—a block created from raw wood with holes drilled to accommodate their nesting of eggs and larvae. Decorated with natural driftwood, it is sure to attract our friendly pollinators.
One 6 ft x 5 ½ in. x 5⁄8 in. (180 x 14 x 1.5 cm) cedar dog-ear fence board
Waterproof premium glue
1-in. (25-mm) and 1 ½ -in. (40-mm) finish nails or galvanized wire nails
Green exterior paint
Six or seven driftwood pieces, 3–6 in. (7.5–15 cm) in length
Weatherproof 30-minute clear silicone
Saw-tooth picture-frame hook (optional)
Basic tool kit
Optional items for decoration
Three metal bee adornments
Three #18 ( 3/4 -in./20-mm) escutcheon pins
9 ½ x 7 ½ x 4 ¾ in. (24 x 19 x 12 cm)
Four-layer block: 8 x 5ó in. (20 x 14 cm)—cut 4
Roof piece 1: 3 ½ x 4. in. (9 x 12 cm)— cut 1
Roof piece 2: 3 ½ x 5 ½ in. (9 x 14 cm)— cut 1
Base: 3. x 5 ½ in. (9.5 x 14 cm)—cut 1
1. Cut one short end of each block piece at a 45° angle on both sides to form a peak. Glue and nail two blocks together, nailing from the back and nailing around the edges only (not in the center), so that you don’t hit nails when you drill the holes in the next step. Continue until all four pieces have been joined together.
2. Using a 5⁄16-in. (8-mm) drill bit, drill approx. 50 holes randomly into the block, making them 1 ½ in. (4 cm) deep and spacing them
roughly ¼ in. (6 mm) apart.
TIP Stick a piece of masking tape 1 1/2 in. (4 cm) from the drill bit tip so that you know when you’ve drilled to the correct depth.
3. To make the roof, glue and nail roof panel 2 on top of roof panel 1 along one 3 ½ -in. (9-cm) edge. When assembled, each side of the roof will be the same size. Then glue and nail the roof to the block top by lining up the back edge of the roof with the back edge of the block; the roof will overhang at the front.
4. Glue and nail the base to the bottom of the block, aligning it with the back edge; the front will stick out by 1 in. (2.5 cm).
5. Paint the roof and base in your chosen color.
TIP: If you’re using spray paint, protect the front of the bee house by placing a piece of cardstock over it while you spray.
6. Attach the driftwood sticks with silicone, then drill pilot holes in the sticks with a 1⁄16-in. (1.5-mm) bit and gently hammer in finish nails to secure them. Using silicone, add a little moss for an extra finishing touch. If you wish, add a few metal bee embellishments with a dab of silicone and escutcheon pins.
7. Place the bee house on a post or rock, or attach a saw-tooth hook to the back to hang it on a fence near flowers.
This project is from Handmade Bird, Bee and Bat Houses by Michele McKee-Orsini