Mason bees are great pollinators and relatively easy to care for. They very rarely sting and do not produce honey. They are solitary bees, which means they do not live in hives or have worker bees. Every female is fertile and they create nests to lay their eggs. This is what the bee house is used for.
I assumed getting ready for mason bees would be nothing more than a quick online read and maybe repositioning the bee house I bought almost a year ago. I was wrong. I got a small surprise while reading up on the Crown Bees website, where my bees are coming from. Nothing too dramatic, but I do want to do all I can to ensure the success of these little pollinators.
My bees will be arriving this week and I was planning to use the mason bee house I bought last year that has been hanging empty in the yard with no sign of bees anywhere near it ever since. What I leaned is that this bamboo house will not work (see below for why)! I quickly ordered some nesting tubes and will hunt around for something protective to put them in that will serve as the makeshift bee house.
What is a bee house for mason bees?
Mason bees lay their eggs in tubular shapes and cap them with mud. Humans can provide them with the ideal environment for this by buying or creating a house and setting it up near plenty of flowering trees, plants and a mud source. A house for mason bees needs only two components: the nesting tubes and some outer protection from moisture and sun. The tubes should be removable so you can harvest them in the fall. You can then buy replacement tubes for next spring. Tubes can be purchased made from natural reed or recyclable paper. Do not use plastic or bamboo. This is a bit confusing since there are bee houses on the market made from bamboo with the tubes actually glued in all natural weight loss supplements. Like the one I have, and even wrote a review about, which I will amend. The simplest way to go is getting a kit from Crown Bees or another provider.
I Bought Mason Bees Online
I was talking to a friend recently who told me she had just bought a few mason bees at her local nursery for $10. I felt more than a little silly. I hadn’t realized that I needed to buy the bees as well. I assumed they would just move right in. This is possible I suppose, IF you have tons of these bees already around. However, they need the tubular spaces to use as nesting boxes for their eggs, so they likely live where they have already found suitable homes.
When I came up empty on a hunt locally for mason bees to buy, I discovered Crown Bees, where I could order online or over the phone and they would ship them to me! They ship native bees to your area when you order. Their site is an awesome resource for anyone interested in more information about these little pollinators.
My package of 20 bees will be arriving this week. After the season you can harvest the bee nests that have filled up the tubes and keep them in the refrigerator throughout the winter. This keeps them safe from birds and other predators who might find them to be a tasty treat if left outside. Hopefully the new tubes I ordered, to replace the bamboo ones, will arrive at the same time as the bees. I’ll keep you posted.
If you are considering buying mason bees, I strongly recommend that you read up on the Crown Bees site. Preferably more than a day or two before your bees arrive (do as I say, not as I do 🙂
Setting up a mason bee house is a great easy way to get your feet wet with bees and increase the pollinators in your area.
Please let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear your stories and adventures with mason bees here in the comments! Anyone thinking of giving mason bees a try?