DIY bee hotels can be filled with (1) routered nesting trays, (2) drilled wood blocks with paper inserts, (3) drilled wood blocks without inserts, or (4) hollow stems. Or, like house in the photo below (construction details here), all four types — each type has pros and cons.
Below are some links to DIY houses I admire.
- Anonymous (nicely routered nesting trays)
- Jordan Arata (beautifully-made observation house)
- Jason Chrisman (video how-to for simple blocks w/ parchment paper liners)
- Marc Carlton (plus excellent maintenance tips)
- Linda Chapman’s hubby
- Jan Cordell
- Emily Doorish (follow her on Instagram, Twitter for bee pics, commentary)
- Horticultural Centre of the Pacific
- Gord Hutchings (pus good overview of biology)
- Tricia Hogbin (use of cinder blocks is great)
- Lakeside Gardens (tad large but I love public displays of bee affection)
- Joe Larson
- Ed Marshall (NB: screening keeps birds from eating larvae)
- NestBoxTech (plus great instructions, links)
- Pavel (really well engineered)
- Ed Phillips (elegant array of blocks with nice hole diversity; see also this)
- Place des Jardins (trés jolie mais trop grande, je pense [sic])
- Axel Reuter
- Mark Smith
- University of Nebraska Extension (great PDF on topic)
The key is to build the hotel so that everything can be removed to make room for fresh nests each year. I.e., you replace everything each year except the house itself. Note: you can reuse drilled blocks of wood (or sections of logs) if you re-drill them (to remove debris) and then kill any residual mites and pathogens by briefly submerging in bleach (or baking, or freezing). Similarly, nesting trays should be cleaned and sterilized (Crown Bees has nice video of that).
If you want to read articles on hotel design, please refer to bibliography I’ve compiled at bottom of this page. If you’re lazy but want a mason bee house ASAP, just buy one: here’s a draft listing of companies that make good mason bee houses. Here’s a guide to avoiding death-trap bee houses.
If you want to see pics of all the beasties that show up at my mason bee houses, I have them all on iNaturalist.