Did you know that not all bees live in colonies or build hives in which to live and nest? Many bee species are solitary. They live alone and build their nests in tiny places like hollow stems and holes in wood. Bee hotels replicate this nesting habitat and aid in boosting declining pollinator populations.
Though they do not make honey, solitary bees are absolutely essential for pollinating crops and flowers. These bees are usually very docile and peaceful, very reluctant to sting. Building a bee hotel is a great way to attract more of these beneficial pollinators into your garden.
What are bee hotels?
A bee hotel contains materials that bees like to nest in, like wood drilled with holes, hollow bamboo stalks, and other materials that mimic the bees’ natural nesting areas. A bee hotel can contain a huge variety of materials, or just a few, and can be large and elaborate or small and simple. Size really doesn’t matter, since each bee really only needs one hole in which to nest.
Building bee habitats like this is obviously beneficial to garden plants and to bee populations in general, but they also look really cool! Here are 27 awesome bee hotel ideas, from tiny simplicity to grandiose luxury.
27 beautiful bee hotels
This artistic bee box from Chris Carpenter Garden Design is full of a variety of materials and textures. It is for sale on his website, but would also make a great DIY project.
A bee hotel can be made out of all kinds of materials, as you can see here. This house, shared on the Landscape Lover blog, sits in the kitchen garden of Louis XIV’s palace in Versailles.
Many communities are adding bug hotels to their parks and education centers. This is a large one that sits at The Gardens at Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA.
Bee hotels can be large, freestanding structures or small enough to hang on a wall, like this one. This is a great way to add interest to an outdoor wall or fence while helping out your local pollinators!
An insect habitat can be made in just about any shape you desire, large or small. This one hangs from trees, making great use of space and materials.
This gorgeous bee house, built by the talented owner of Greener Spaces Ltd, features tons of different materials with lots of space for insects. It even has a living roof! This would be a great way to upcycle some old pallets, and the living roof could be planted with annual flowers to give the bees a convenient food source.
A bee hotel does not have to be large or elaborate. This cute little cinder block house from Little Eco Footprints is a great example of how you can make one out of scrap materials, and it takes up very little space.
Bee hotels make such a pretty addition to a flower garden. This one looks like a little birdhouse nestled into the surrounding flowers.
This gorgeous little bug hotel was part of the Beyond the Hive competition, in which designers competed to create sustainable bug habitats for London parks. This is the “Inn Vertebrate”, a multi-story inn designed by ORTLOS Space Engineering and Metalanguage Design.
Bee hotels were a focus of Michigan’s Bee Pallooza, hosted by the entomology department at Michigan State University. This one is made with logs, bamboo, and pieces of wood with holes drilled into them.
Most of the bee hotels we see are works of art, and this one is no exception. Creatively framed against slats of wood in alternating colors, this would make a gorgeous addition to any garden.
This beautiful three-tier bee hotel can be found on Folksy. It’s a perfect gift idea that would also make a simple and fun DIY project for gardeners and kids that adds a splash of color to any garden space.
Here’s an amazingly gorgeous bee hotel perched in a patch of flowers, shared by Ellen on hobby.blogo.nl. This is made with rustic natural materials and the angled lines give it wonderful visual interest.
You probably already have many of the materials needed to build your own bee hotel. Scrap wood and nesting materials around your property can make a beautiful pollinator home.
This insect highrise with living walls on two of the sides was featured at a flower show, and it makes awesome use of space. Via Little Green Fingers
Are you seeing yet how simple and inexpensive it can be to build an insect habitat? Nothing fancy is required to create an attractive, effective place for pollinators.
Here’s another beautiful vertical bee hotel built on a much smaller scale. This would be a super simple DIY project for those without much garden space for a larger version. Via Bijenlint
Garden therapy has a great tutorial on how to build this little bug hotel, perfect for hanging on a backyard fence or in a garden.
This big bee hotel sits in Place des Jardins in Paris, and is absolutely gorgeous! Image via Moira Dunworth
Also made by the talented Wudwerx on Folksy, this amazing bug hotel is made to look like a miniature cityscape. Very cool!
This incredible honeycomb-shaped bee hotel is part of a larger pavilion built with spaces for human observers to rest in the shade. Built by architect AltierD, this pavilion sits in Muttersholtz, France. Via Designboom
Here’s a great way to recycle old pallets while helping out your local beneficial insects. Pallets can easily be stacked and their spaces filled with materials that nesting bugs love.
Are you convinced yet that a bee hotel would make a really cool addition to your yard while helping out one of nature’s most essential little critters? I hope so! For more information on how to build a bee hotel and what to include in it to attract visitors, visit National Geographic Education.
Like this article? Subscribe to our newsletter to get more great content and updates sent to your inbox!