Build Your Own Paper Bee Hive!

Did you know that the MFA has a rooftop apiary? An apiary is a home for bees that was built by a beekeeper. Our apiary is home to about 200,000 honeybees in 12 hives!

Honeybees live in groups called colonies. A colony is made up of a queen bee, thousands of worker bees, and hundreds of drone bees. Worker bees build hexagonal (or six-sided) wax shapes inside their hive. These shapes make up a honeycomb, where bees store their honey.  

When a beekeeper collects honey from a hive, they carefully remove pieces of honeycomb. Then, they extract the honey from the comb using a variety of techniques. Often, beekeepers will melt the wax honeycomb once the honey has been removed to create beeswax. Beeswax is used in many different household items, including lip balm, lotions, and hair products.

In addition to making delicious honey and useful beeswax, our honeybees help our gardens grow. All around the world, honeybees pollinate many types of plants. Yummy foods like apples, strawberries, bananas, avocados, coconuts, almonds, cucumbers, and even chocolate couldn’t exist without pollinators like honeybees!

Beekeeper check on the honey bees at the museum of Fine Arts St Pete

Try making your own toy bee hive at home! Use #MFAfromHome to share your creations with us online!


• Paper
Glue dots, glue stick, liquid glue
Shallow cardboard box (shoebox, box lid, etc.)
• Optional: butcher or plain wrapping paper and coloring supplies
Optional: paper and coloring supplies


1. Use scissors to cut your paper into strips that are approximately one inch wide and 11 inches long. One piece of standard 8.5 x 11” paper will yield about 8 paper strips. 

2. Now we make our honeycomb cells! Take one strip of paper and fold it seven times. Then, overlap the ends to create a hexagonal shape. Use glue dots, glue stick, or liquid glue to connect either end of your hexagon. Repeat with all of your paper strips. (You can also use paper towel tube “slices” to make your honeycomb cells!)

3. Arrange your hexagon shapes into a honeycomb pattern inside of a shallow cardboard box. Once you’ve decided on your pattern, use glue dots, glue stick, or liquid glue to connect all of your hexagon shapes together. Remember not to glue your honeycomb to your box, so that you can remove it when pretending to collect the honey from your hive!

4. Optional: Remove your honeycomb and use butcher or plain wrapping paper to cover your box. Then, use coloring supplies to decorate it! You might draw flowers on your box for your bees to pollinate or color in extra bees. 

5. Optional: If you don’t have bee toys at home, use paper, scissors, and coloring supplies to create bees to live in your hive. A hive can have up to 50,000 bees! If you make a queen bee for your hive, remember that she is usually the largest bee in the colony.