by Brad Badelt
A backyard bee box can provide a great home for solitary bees to lay their eggs. Solitary bees – also referred to as “native bees” – differ from honey bees in that every female is fertile, and typically inhabits a nest she constructs herself. Mason orchard bees, the most common solitary bee, use existing holes as nests, rather than build their own. While solitary bees typically don’t produce honey, they are excellent pollinators.
What You Will Need:
- One piece of untreated 4” x 4” wood (roughly a foot long)
- One thin piece of wood (roughly 4” wide and 6” long, less than 1” thick)
- A metal hook
- A hand saw
- A drill with a 5/16” inch bit
- Carpenter’s glue
- A piece of thin wire or rope
Saw off one end of the 4” x 4” wood on an angle (roughly 30 degrees). Then, using a 5/16” drill bit, drill a series of holes in the shorter face of the wood. Make sure the holes are clean, as bees can be fussy about selecting their homes (consider scrubbing the inside of the holes with a small piece of sandpaper).
Using the carpenter’s glue, attach a thin piece of wood (roughly 4” wide by 6” long) to the sloped end of the bee box. The roof should overhang on the side that has the drilled holes, to protect the holes from rain. The roof can also be nailed on.
Screw the metal hook into the top of the bee box. Using a thin wire or rope, the box can then be hung from a tree branch. The box should be about four feet off the ground and, ideally, near a food source such as a garden or native plants. The drilled holes should face south or east, so that they get early morning sun. Voila!