Mason Bees

azbookwormJanuary 2, 2012

I am thinking of getting a Mason Bee house and straws to encourage bees around the garden. Don't really have a good place for the house though. Don't want to put a Bee House on our house. HOA and all that.

Anyone have suggestions? Do you have a Mason Bee House in your yard.

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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

I started looking at making a Mason Bee house when a friend told me about them recently. I found this: "Face nesting blocks as close to the southeast direction as possible to catch morning sun and affix it firmly so that it does not sway in the wind. It should be located at least three feet above the ground."

Also read that using plastic straws is not advised because mold will grow on the plastic. The instruction sheet I downloaded says to use cooking parchment paper. You roll it around a pencil to get the right shape.

There's lots of articles about managing mason bees for the home gardener. Just Google mason bee house, here's one link that I like.

Here is a link that might be useful: Using Paper for Mason Bee Holes

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 7:54AM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Funny you just posted this! I *just* received a big ol' Mason bee house that I ordered from Kinsman Garden company this week. I have no idea if we even HAVE them here, LOL, but I'm going to put the Mason bee house out tomorrow and see what happens.

Keep us posted on yours efforts!
Take care,
Grant

Here is a link that might be useful: The type of Mason Bee house I just received.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 7:46PM
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azbookworm

Grant, Where are you going to put your new bee house?

I am trying to figure out the best place in my yard but haven't found a suitable location yet.

Very nice bee house.

AzBookworm

    Bookmark   January 8, 2012 at 11:28PM
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lazy_gardens

We have them - I think think are nesting in the woodpile.

The alternative to the purchased bee house is bundles of hollow-stemmed grass or bamboo placed in undisturbed locations. They will even colonize a box of paper drinking straws.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 2:50PM
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solitaryb

Hello,

Best place for a mason bee house is facing East (or South East) so that the bees receive the warmth of the morning sun and can warm up their wing muscles for their busy day.

Make sure they are at least 5 feet off the ground and not somewhere where ants or pets get interested in them. As they don't generally sting, you can even place their house on your wall just above the ground floor door / windows.

If you don't have cocoons supplied with the house, it doesn't matter - the bees will normally find it as they are short on accommodation.

Lastly: avoid setting the house up to be a bee cemetery after two years. Ensure that you can inspect the tunnels for the sort of pests that steal the bees work - i.e. parcel/parchment paper line the tunnels if they are just drilled holes and/or use reeds that you can break open and renew in the fall (bamboo is not that good). Hope this is useful. P.M. me if you have other questions.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mason Bee Fans

    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 1:57PM
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azbookworm

Hey SolitaryB,

I have a north facing house. Back yard is facing south. My garden area is in the western side of the back yard. Bird feeder on the opposite side. Humming bird feeder near the garden area. Compost tumblers squeezed in the back corner out of the way.

I have read that I could hang a mason feeder from the house, but I am confident the spouse would object to that! So I have the block wall which HOA might object if they found out. OR on a stand? Hanging from a Shepard hook like the bird feeder?

All the pictures I have seen on line have bee houses around wooded areas. Here in my backyard there is dirt, gravel and lots of sun. No woods. No firewood. No shade, unfortunately. No trees in the back yard.

I have seen bees around my yard though. Holes dug into the ground. Around the garden area. So I know they are around. Will the bees be able to handle our hot 110f temps if I hang a feeder out in the sun like on a Shepard hook?

Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 3:02PM
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lazy_gardens

"I have seen bees around my yard though. Holes dug into the ground. Around the garden area."

Those are "alkali bees", efficient pollinators of many things. All they need is dry alkaline dirt. They are the most common AZ native pollinator. In the mornings my queen's wreath would have more of them than honey bees.

Don't hang the bee house in the sun - those directions are for more northern climates, not Phoenix (solitaryB lives in France, where warmth is important). East-facing, maybe, or under a tree where it will only get early AM sun.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2012 at 1:55PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Good information, B, thanks for sharing it, and the FB page.

I put my bee house on the east side of my house, on a wire rack where I've also got a lot of potted plants. We'll see if I see them capped off some time. I wish the outer part of the house had been square, LOL, as it would have been easier to situate. I'm keeping it all very casual and low tech. East facing, off the ground, dry, no pets. Hope they like it, LOL.

Take care all,
Grant

    Bookmark   January 12, 2012 at 2:40PM
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mkaug

Here is another great DIY link on how to build the tray style design.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tray Style Mason Bee Homes

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 10:22PM
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Fascist_Nation(9b)

1. Mason bees, carpenter bees, leaf cutter bees, solitary bees, bumblebees use holes in wood or bore them themselves to lay eggs. They are stingless or rarely sting (non-aggressive)...and if stung less painful than a honeybee While not as good as honey bees at pollinating they can still pollinate crops and should be encouraged to hang out at your place. No complaints from neighbors.

2. Drill a series of holes level or slightly upwards into a block or log of wood. Make sure wood is untreated. Keep opening smooth. That is it. You can hang them up on your home, in a sheltered sunny spot or not. By the way, any series of cardboard or bamboo tube (not plastic straws though Tygon apparently works) will do. Protection is nice but not necessary as my wood pile attests. Nor does a hole orientation (N, S, E or W) seem to matter though mine may prefer a north opening in Phoenix. They seem to do their nutzo flights around the holes beginning in mid-May in Phoenix.

3. Mason bee nesting blocks, 5/16th inch holes ; 4-6 inches deep

4. Bumble bee nesting blocks, 9/16th to 1 inch holes ; 4-6 inches deep; 9/16's favor the yellow-black bumblebees, bigger holes the black.

5. Deeper is supposed to produce males along with females but others with 3 1/2" deep commercial nests report no problem with sustainable bees.

6. These bees do not live in the holes they build their nests there. A female lays an egg, leave pollen package nourishment and packs mud and a part of a leaf in and repeats the process until the hole is filled. Rose leaves are preferred. So you might want to plant a rose bush nearby as well as provide a mud source...like a small spillway next to a fountain or slow drip irrigation into some clay. This can help attract other pollenizers and beneficial predators who use mud for nest building as well.

see photos:
http://themagnifyingglass.typepad.com/weblog/2011/03/make-a-mason-bee-nest.html

Here is a link that might be useful: Mason Bee Nests

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 6:58PM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

Great information everyone - thanks!!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:56AM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

My nests have been up for a while now, nobody is home though. Anyone seen any bees taking up residence?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 7:21PM
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lazy_gardens

Mary - They don't live there, they just lay eggs there.

Check inside the tubes for signs of packed-in vegetable matter. If you see it, they are laying eggs.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:56PM
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koiandturtle(9)

I have them, they made a home out of my bamboo roll up shade on the patio. I just let them be I dont use the roll up shade anymore anyhow.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 2:53AM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Thanks lazy, I understand that part. I guess I should take one down and peer inside in case the building has begun but not reached the end of the tube where I would see it.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 8:30AM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

No action on mine. Yet. I haven't given up though. :) Happy gardening everyone!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 12:23PM
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Fascist_Nation(9b)

"They seem to do their nutzo flights around the holes beginning in mid-May in Phoenix. "

To be clearer---this is when they start nesting.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 3:39PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Good to know, FN. I won't give up yet. Take care all!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 2:19PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Action here. I have half a dozen mud daubed holes and saw a bee entering one of the cavities this morning. Yayyyyy. Anyone else?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 7:14PM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

No sightings in the North-land... sniff...

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 2:06PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Congratulations, Mary, that's really exciting! ZERO activity that I can determine around my little mason bee house. I'm envious, but happy for you. I haven't given up though. Yet.

Take care all,
Grant

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 7:15PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Here's a pic of the mud daubing a few days ago -

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 8:32PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Hiya Mary and all,

Awesome! That's so neat to see, and it's encouraging. Can you remind us where/how you positioned it? 3 feet up, facing southeast?? I promise, I won't move mine any time soon, but I'm just curious. Mine is about three feet high, facing due east. Great pic. Congratulations!

Take care all,
Grant

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 6:32PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Grant, it's higher than 3' up, it's under the house eve. Facing mostly east but I think SE is preferred. I'll have to dig my book out.

Are you providing some mud for the bees? Keep some nearby to help them but be careful of a water source as they can fall in and drown if it's shaped incorrectly or too deep. Better go find that book so my instructions make more sense.

Thanks for the feedback Grant.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 7:07PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Oooh, good to know, Mary, thanks. No, I'm not providing any mud for them. I didn't know that was one of my duties, LOL. I'll get on it! I'd love to hear any instructions or tips/tricks you have.

Here's mine. Imagine an echo sound as you look in all of the empty tubes, tubes, tubes.....

Happy gardening all,
Grant with a serious case of Mason Bee Envy

Here is a link that might be useful: Pics, so far, from my garden June 2012

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 7:28PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

I always love looking at your pictures Grant. I especially like the plant stand with various 'stuffed' birds on each layer. Nicely done dude. I'll go find my mason bee book.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 8:17PM
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