To make a nest you’ll need:
- An untreated wooden plank, at least four inches (100mm) wide;
- Plenty of hollow stems such as bramble, hogweed, reed or bamboo. Japanese knotweed is a dreadful pest, but its dead stems are easy to gather and cut, and available in a wide range of diameters including the bee’s preferred 3-5mm;
- Saw, drill, screws and secateurs;
- A mirror fixing to hang the finished nest up.
Next stageCut the plank into four to make a rectangular frame. Drill guide holes for the screws (to stop the wood splitting) and assemble the frame. Snip your stems into plank-width lengths, discarding any bent or knobbly ones. It’s a good idea to include some really big stems (cut with a fine saw), even though they’re no use to the bees; they speed up the assembly stage, look attractive and help shelter lacewings and ladybirds over winter.
Lay your frame on a tilted surface and carefully pack it with stems. Only as you add the final few does the whole thing suddenly lock solid.