Welcome Home Mason Bees

mason-bees-close-up
Welcome!

My mason bees arrived a day early! They came in the mail, as if they were not living creatures. In a regular cardboard box, along with the cardboard nesting tubes I had ordered. The actual bees were in a teeny tiny cardboard box about the size of a thick slice of butter. The instructions from Crown Bees  said to cool them in the refrigerator right away.

The information explained what to do if a few of the males had already come out of their cocoons. It said, “This shows that they are healthy, strong and lookin’ for a little lovin’.” That little lovin’ will mean death for the males, so hopefully they get at least a few days to enjoy life out of the cocoon.

My daughter and I took a peak into the tiny box, and two little guys were indeed already out. You can purchase something called a Humidibee for this purpose, but I had not. So we jabbed some holes in an old hummus container, popped the required sugar-soaked cotton ball in (for nourishment), covered it all with a brown paper bag, and there they went into the fridge, right between the strawberries and leftover soup. Apparently they can live up to five weeks out of the cocoon if they’re kept cold so they don’t move around. This seems crazy to me, but my experience level with all of this is, shall we say, at the beginning stages.

With the bees safe,and literally chilling, I needed to set up their house. According to the experts at Crown Bees, the cheap bamboo house I had bought on Amazon was not only poorly constructed, prone to mold and pests, it was also a “deathtrap” for mason bees. The bamboo tubes are impossible for them to get out of and impossible to harvest the cocoons from in the fall.

Homemade Bee House

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Homemade-ish Bee House

I ended up pulling all the glued bamboo (deathtrap) tubes out of the bee house I had, putting in a plastic container for a little more rain protection and adding the cardboard tear away nesting tubes. I was looking for something that would provide a bit more rain protection, but this is what I found. I really hope they like it. The instructions also insist that there be a good supply of mud nearby. This is what they use for building their nests inside the tubes. I also put out a little dish of water with rocks. I know this is essential for honey bees. I’m not sure if these guys are any different.

If you’re planning to start raising mason bees and would like to make things easier on yourself, I recommend buying one of these kits. Everything is there that you would need, including bees. However, if you want to do it yourself and cheaply, the nesting tubes really can go in any container that is at least as long as they are and that you can mount outside. The best spot is against a wall for protection and stability with morning sun and some protection from rain if possible.

When the sun came out the next day, I took them out of the fridge, put them in a little jar lid and set them on top of the nesting material, as per the instructions. As I was leaving for the day, one little guy was bravely making his way out.

I sure hope they like their new home.

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12 thoughts on “Welcome Home Mason Bees

  1. Hi Sarah,
    It is interesting to know that you can build the bamboo tubes bee house for the bee.
    Just wonder do you and your children have to take any precautions from being getting stung by the bee and how long then will you be able to collect the honey from them?
    Regards Sadie

    1. Hi Sadie, Thanks for your comment! Mason bees don’t make honey, they are just great pollinators. They are also known as the ‘gentle bee’ – they do not often sting, from what I understand. So there are no precautions necessary. If you keep honey bees in a hive, that is a completely different story and we would definitely wear appropriate protection. Thanks for asking!

  2. I’m ashamed to admit it but I was very afraid of bees when I was a kid. Now I realize how important they are to every aspect of life on earth. What a powerful little bug.
    We have neighbors that keep bees and sell the most awesome honey.
    Thanks for putting all this information together. I hope more people want to create a garden that attracts more bees and gives them a better environment.
    Thanks,
    Lynn

    1. Hi Lynn, Lots of kids are afraid of bees, for good reason. It’s no fun to get stung and most people don’t realize that it could be a yellow jacket or something other than a honey bee that stung them. How great that you have neighbors that sell honey. I wish I did. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  3. Hi Sarah;

    What a fun, interesting, and vital hobby you have going!
    So great that you can share the wonders of Mother Nature with your daughter, up close:)
    So fascinating about the wee masons chillin’ in their cocoons in the fridge!
    I think it’s great that you are one with the cause of saving bees, because there’s never been a greater need, what with all our man-made weather changes:(
    I was reading with interest “About You”, and noticed you had spent a day in a bee-keeping museum in Slovenia. My wife and I would gladly do the same!
    …was it a wax museum?;)
    Do keep up your fascinating work here:)

    All the best,
    Terry

    1. Hi Terry, thanks so much for your enthusiastic comment! It made my day! Thanks for reading so thoroughly. The beekeeping museum was not a wax museum, but about the history of beekeeping in the region. There was an observation hive kept at an open window so you could see what the bees were up to. Also lots of information about the unique art of painted bee boxes in Slovenia. I strongly recommend it and hope to get back there soon myself! Thanks again!

      1. Fascinating, Sarah!
        I’m an artist, and would love to see those ornate bee boxes…didn’t imagine there was such an item:)
        Don’t you love it when you can get a ‘cut-away’ view of the inner workings of nature’s creatures? I’ve only seen the ant farms…many kids have had those…but to view inside a busy hive…that would be great!
        I’m rounding up my Missus…tell us the museum’s schedule…and we’ll meet you in Slovenia!:)

        1. Hi Terry, Take a look here I have tons of pictures, but they’re not digital (it was a few years ago). I like your thinking – meeting in Slovenia sounds perfect!

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