“Save the bees” has become a common rallying cry over the past couple of years. The bright yellow pollinators are vital to our ecosystem, but if you get the feeling that you don’t see them buzzing around as frequently as you used to, well, you’re not wrong.
A recent study by Wildlife Preservation Canada suggests that the number of bees in Canada has been rapidly declining since the mid-1990s, with most species of bumblebees having been assessed as both endangered and threatened. And while something as simple as adding a bee box to your property won’t necessarily reverse the decline right away, it’ll still make a difference in conserving the bee population and should be considered by anyone with enough yard space to spare.
In fact, according to Ryan Smith, entomologist and owner of Ant and Garden Organic Pest Control, setting up a bee box in your yard offers many benefits beyond just helping make a home for the endangered pollinator.
“Aside from being easy to maintain, you’ll have a supply of honey from your own bees. Bees are pollinators, making your garden and nearby plants healthier,” explains Smith. “Beekeeping is also a rewarding hobby, allowing you to take part in conserving the bee population.”
Whether you’re hoping to set up a bee hotel on your property to set and forget about, or you’re hoping to try your hand at amateur beekeeping this summer, we’ve rounded up some of the best bee boxes that will allow you to help the shrinking bee population, one colony at a time.
The best bee hotels for independent hives
You don’t have to commit a ton of time in order to create a safe home for bees in your backyard. These bee hotels allow you to set up a premade hive that an independent colony can move into immediately.
The Solitary Bee Project ($28.99; amazon.ca)
This charming little bee box is perfect for attracting solitary bees, which is one of the best kinds to have in your yard if you have kids around. Not only are solitary bees effective pollinators, but they don’t actually sting.
Mason Bamboo Bee House ($44.06; amazon.ca)
If your backyard is full of flowering plants, you’ll benefit the most from a standard bamboo bee house. This house is equal parts cute and easy to install — all you have to do is sit it among your garden, and the bees are sure to show up.
Nature’s Market Wooden Bee and Insect Hotel ($29.99; amazon.ca)
If you’re looking for a bee hotel that looks more like a birdhouse than an artificial beehive, consider this wooden bee and insect hotel by Nature’s Market. The charming little hotel comes preassembled and ready to go — and it looks adorable hanging from a branch in the backyard.
Welliver Outdoors Standard Mason Bee House ($44.44, originally $47.83; amazon.ca)
This low-maintenance alternative to beekeeping is one of the easiest and most efficient bee houses on the list. Although it’s not as aesthetically pleasing as some of the other hotels, it’s large enough for bees to populate comfortably and also comes with easily replaceable paper tubing.
Sh-Ruidu Garden Durable Wooden Insect Bee House ($46.99; amazon.ca)
The Sh-Ruidu Garden wooden bee house takes the term quite literally: It is in fact a miniature mansion for pollinators. It’s crafted from high-quality wood and includes a myriad of different-sized tubes and tunnels to better your chances of bees moving in.
Famkit Bee House ($40.99; amazon.ca)
The Famkit Bee House is ideal for backyards with limited branch space. The lightweight hotel can be drilled directly into the side of a large tree trunk or vertical post without having to worry about hanging.
Wildlife World Interactive Solitary Beehive ($48.99; amazon.ca)
If you have curious little ones — or you’re just curious yourself — the Wildlife World Interactive Solitary Beehive is a great option. It provides a safe space for bees to flourish, but it also makes it easy to peek in and observe bees at work.
Maison Abeille Mason Bee House ($48.38; amazon.ca)
Crafted from natural pinewood and bamboo tube, this waterproof bee house is both practical and aesthetically pleasing. The exterior varnish also ensures you won’t have to deal with any mold or fungus growth, which can cause bees to get sick if not properly maintained.
The best bee boxes for amateur beekeeping
Interested in amateur beekeeping? This mutually beneficial hobby will help bees flourish while also providing your household with your own homegrown honey. There are endless options for amateur beekeeping, but these are some of the easiest kits to get started with:
Busy Bees ‘N’ More Langstroth Bee Deep Brood Box ($478.99; amazon.ca)
Looking for the easiest and most reliable bee box? Smith recommends the Busy Bees ‘N’ More Langstroth Bee Deep Brood Box. “I like how refined and sturdy this box is. It’s the perfect habitat for my bees,” he shares.
LangLang Automatic Wooden Beehive House Kit ($340; amazon.ca)
Sure, this automatic wooden beehive house kit is cute — but it’s also extremely practical for new beekeepers. The built-in honey auto flowing system is much less stressful on bees, and also makes it a whole lot easier for amateur beekeepers to extract honey.
Traditional Wood Beehive With Circular Frames ($279.99; amazon.ca)
A circular beehive kit might not seem very typical, but there’s a reason hobby beekeepers tend to choose this unique approach. The circular hive allows for perfectly round cut comb honey that’s easy to extract and doesn’t affect the hive’s livelihood whatsoever.
LiChenYao Beehive House ($1,147.68; amazon.ca)
This colorful beehive house was designed to keep bees warm in harsh winters and cool in the summers while also maintaining an ideal moisture level for bees. The preassembled beehive house takes the stress out of building a beehive and is considered to be one of the easiest to use for both amateurs and more serious beekeepers alike.
Vivo Complete Beekeeping Kit ($229.99; amazon.ca)
Looking for a no-frills beekeeping kit to test your hand? This complete beekeeping kit from Vivo is just the ticket. The midrange kit includes everything you’ll need to get started and is crafted from high-quality, unstained pinewood, so you can customize the box to suit your own personal taste.
BeeCastle 8 Frame Bee Hive Complete Beehive Kit ($338; amazon.ca)
Why build a bee home when you could build a bee castle? The BeeCastle 8 Frame Bee Hive Kit comes with everything you’ll need to keep a hive happy and then some. The BeeCastle hive is also pretreated with a natural wax coating to help protect your hive from the elements.
Cedar Wood Honey Keeper Beehive Box ($349.79; amazon.ca)
Crafted from high-quality waterproof and moisture-proof cedar material, this secure shelter is both protected from the elements and other insect infestations. The thickened boards also keep the hive at a near-constant temperature, which makes honey production safer.