Build a bumblebee box

Mark Rayner shows how to craft a haven for these garden friends.

You will need: 19mm plywood or untreated timber cut to the following dimensions:

  • 260mm x 330mm for the roof
  • 260mm x 40mm for the overhang
  • 300mm x 220mm for the rear wall
  • 260mm x 220mm for the front wall
  • 220mm x 225mm for the floor

Also required: Two pieces 260mm wide x 300mm sloping down to 260mm (side walls), 220mm x 440mm piece of carpet underfelt with hessian removed, two small zinc-plated or stainless steel hinges, 40mm galvanised jolt head nails, tape measure, pencil, exterior PVA glue, saw, screwdriver, hammer, paintbrush, sandpaper, drill with 1.5mm and 25mm drill bits and Resene Concrete Clear.

Top tips: Put the box in a well-drained spot not facing south, so it is about 3cm above the ground and protected from excess winds, shade and sun, and ideally is close to nectar-rich, early spring flowers. A site against a tree or building will aid bumblebees’ orientation.

Use older plywood or seal the box insides and edges with very low VOC paint like Resene Ceiling Paint tinted brown and use old underfelt to reduce the risk formaldehyde fumes.

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Step 1 how to build a bumblebee box

Step 5
Measure and mark the plywood or timber pieces in the dimensions listed above.

Step 2 how to build a bumblebee box

Step 2
Cut the plywood pieces and smooth any rough edges with sandpaper.

Step 3 how to build a bumblebee box

Step 3
Assemble the four walls, as shown, fixing along the edges with PVA glue and galvanised nails. Sand or lightly file the rear wall’s top edge so it aligns with the pitch of the side walls.

Step 4 how to build a bumblebee box

Step 4
Position the floor approximately 30mm from the bottom edge, as shown, fixing it in place with PVA and nails.

Step 5 how to build a bumblebee box

Step 5
Fix the roof overhang to the roof with PVA and nails – always drill 1.5mm pilot holes before nailing to prevent the plywood from splitting.

Step 6 how to build a bumblebee box

Step 6
Drill a 25mm entrance hole in the front of the box approximately 50mm from the lower edge. Smooth edges with sandpaper.

Step 7 how to build a bumblebee box

Step 7
Apply three coats of Resene Concrete Clear to the box’s exterior surfaces and roof, allowing two hours for each coat to dry.

Step 8 how to build a bumblebee box

Step 8
Fix two hinges to the front wall’s top edge and roof, leaving an about 50mm overhang. Fold the underfelt in half and place in the box.


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