Build a milk carton bee hotel

You can do your part for urban pollinators by building a bee hotel! Some types of solitary bees nest in tunnels. You can build a small milk carton bee hotel to create nest sites for these species. 

Supplies & Tools


  • 1 litre milk carton
  • measuring tape and pencil
  • 2 x 3 board (at least 17 inches long)
  • duct tape (optional)
  • twine (optional)
  • paper straws or natural stalks (e.g. bamboo or raspberry canes)


  • drill
  • drill bits
  • vise
  • miter saw and table saw
  • sander or sandpaper


1. Cut 2 pieces of 2x3 into 7-3/4 inch lengths using a miter saw. Cut one piece in half lengthwise using a table saw.

2. Place block in a vise.  Sand the outer side of the wood block so it is smooth.

3. Drill holes into wood blocks. Use sizes between 3/32 inches—1/4 inches. Use 6 inch long drill bits if possible.

4. Cut off the top flaps of the milk carton. The 2x3 block, and standard sized straws (if using), should fit perfectly.

5. Place tunnels and blocks in the milk carton. Add enough materials to ensure everything is packed in tightly.

6. If desired, decorate with duct tape or stickers.

7. Place your hotel facing south or southeast, next to a flower or vegetable garden in the spring. Place it a few feet off the ground, such as in a tree or hanging from a fence with twine. Monitor your hotel for bee activity.

8. In the following spring, clean out your hotel after bees have emerged. Replace stems or straws as necessary.

Want to try a more complicated version? Try our small, medium or large bee hotel sizes too! Find instructions and blueprints for these larger sizes here.