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How to Create a Tin Can Bee for Your Garden
Most everyone has a soft spot in their heart for bees. Various decorations for inside and outside the home showcase our affection for these productive insects. And why not – they are important pollinators and help provide foods that we love. We are not just talking about honey bees and bumblers but the thousands of different kinds of insects that make our world so great. This whimsical tin can bee craft is a great diy project for your yard or garden.
In addition to being a sweet decoration for your garden or patio, the project can also help a few pollinators in your area. By filling the can with sticks -especially those with hollow stems, you may be providing a home for some bees.
It is important to note that honey bees will not move into this tin can bee craft. Honey bees are social insects that live in large colonies. However, most of the bees in the world are solitary insects.
One example is the Mason bee. This pollinator is a solitary insects that nests in hollow stems and tubes. Who knows, a solitary bee may choose your garden art for a home this Summer.
Choosing a Tin Can for Your Bee Craft
When choosing any type of fun craft project, using recycled materials is always a plus. For this project, we are using a medium sized tin can but of course you can use a can of any size.
My family loves green beans and I find so many uses for these larger cans. This can measures about 8″ tall with a diameter of 5″. If you use smaller cans, be sure to adjust the length of your legs to fit the smaller size body.
Have fun with your project. This does not have to be a work of art. It make a great gift for kids to make for grandparents or other bee lovers too.
- 1 large tin can – empty
- spray primer
- Yellow base coat spray paint
- masking tape
- black outdoor acrylic paint & brush
- pink paint pen
- yellow paint pen
- 2 large googly eyes
- black paracord
- super glue
- wire for hanging
- hollow stems (optional)
- acrylic sealer (optional)
How to Make a Tin Can Bee
Time needed: 4 hours.
Step by step directions for making a honey bee garden art project from a tin can.
- Prepare Tin Can
Remove the label from your chosen can. You can use something like Goo Be Gone or petroleum jelly or nail polish remover to remove any glue if you wish.
Most importantly, make sure there are no jagged edges that might cause cuts on the rim!
- Paint a Base Coat of Primer
For best results, spray a base coat of primer on the outside and inside of your tin can. You can skip this step. However, it really helps your top layer of paint to adhere to the tin.
I like to spray paint outside when possible. Any good primer will work well. I chose Bullseye 1-2-3 for this project.
- Spray Paint Base Color
Time to spray on the base coat for the bee body. You can use any color you wish. I chose Gloss Sun Yellow in American Accents.
Spray one coat and let it dry for a bit. Then add a second coat – let dry thoroughly.
- Masking Tape Stripes
Those of you with some artistic ability can skip this part. But for those of us who are skilled and to help kids stay a bit on track – several rounds of masking tape helps keep the stripes in order.
With regular masking tape you will have some bleed through but that’s okay. If you do not want this use something like Painter’s tape.
I purposely did not have my stripes all the same width but you can if you prefer.
- Paint on Stripes
Use black acrylic paint (designed for outdoor use is best)-to paint the area between the masking tape. This gives your bee stripes. It’s okay to be messy.
- Bee Head
After the stripes are dry, remove the masking tape. Slowly pulling if off to prevent pulling away your base coat of yellow. If that happens – don’t fret – we can cover it up in a bit.
Now, use some of your black paint to give your bee some color on the bottom of the can – this will become the head. A bit of a black forehead is a good idea.
- Glue on the Eyes
Give your bee a face with eyes. I choose to use 2 large googly eyes – (even though a honey bee really has 5 eyes). I got these at the Dollar Tree for a buck so you may find cheap ones locally. Use super glue or Elmer’s glue.
Then, just because the tin can bee looked sad – I gave her a smile with a pink paint marker.
- Adding Bee Fuzz
Bees are fuzzy. That is why insect pollination is so helpful. Use your paint brush with just a bit of black paint to blur the lines of your stripes and face.
- Make Legs and Antennae
Use black cord to make 6 legs and 2 antennae. The legs should be 7″ long and the antenna 3″ long. Tie a small knot in one end of the legs to simulate feet.
Because I used paracord, I had to gently melt the ends of the cord to prevent fraying. You may not have to do this depending on the type of cording you choose to use.
- Glue on Legs and Antenna
Use Super Glue (or any fast drying glue) to attach the legs and antennae to your can. You can glue the legs on the stripes or not – but put 3 on each side with the knotted feet end hanging down.
The 2 antennae go at the top of the head.
- Attach Hanger
A small piece of wire can serve as a hanger. This one was cut at about 16 inches. One end glued to the head of the bee and the other to the open end.
- Pollen Marks on Bee Head
Use a yellow paint marker to make a few yellow dashes on the bee’s forehead. This simulates pollen and brightens the face.
- Adding Hollow Stems
Now you are almost ready to hang your tin can bee craft outside. Find some hollow stems and twigs to place in the can. You can even order hollow tubes for mason bees if you wish.
If you hang your craft in the garden where it is exposed to rain, be sure to tip the can so no water will collect.
- Hang Your Tin Can Bee Craft in the Garden
You did it! Now find a great place for your bee. If you want to prolong the life of your creation, spray with an outdoor sealer but this is completely optional.
Your garden art bee should last for at least one season and maybe more. This fun project opens up the opportunity to talk to others about the importance of all pollinators.
Create several and have a large nesting site for many types of solitary bees. They make great gifts too.
Final Thoughts on Making a Tin Can Bee
Though this project is based on our ideal of a honey bee, you could use any bee as the model. Education is the key to helping everyone understand the importance of all pollinators.
Still in the mood to – think Bee? The paracord used in this project was also used to make my Clay Pot Honey Bee. Maybe you need to consider one of those for the garden too. Another great idea for the garden is Bee Painted Rocks – a fun project for all ages.