Mason Bee Keeping


i keep them in a tupperware w./ the lid cracked. put a small piece of lightly moistened paper towel scrunched up in there. make sure it doesn’t touch the cocoons or they will mold. put them out when you see blossoms starting to come out.


Thanks Moose. I think I’ll leave them in the little container they can’t in and put that in a larger Tupperware with a moist paper towel. Do these look okay?


yes. good idea! don’t let them warm to room temp. or they’ll hatch on you.


I just got my mason bee tubes with inserts from amazon and not sure if I should send them back.

I thought the Id should be 5/16 and with inserts they are only 1/4 inch.

is this to small of an opening for mason bees?


I wonder if you were sent the tubes for leafcutter bees

Who was the supplier for Amazon?


That is what I was thinking. I will have to look at invoice.


Brosan is the supplier.


I don’t know that supplier


Well I assembled the bee housing using what I had available and made some field mods.
(Yes, those are bungee cords, but, no duct tape or chewing gum in this design…well, yet)
Because of the taper of the bucket it was easy to securely wedge the mount and block in w/o securing further.
Instead of drilling holes for ventilation in the back (bottom of bucket), I made a cutout and will glue an old screen over it. And instead of drilling holes in the bottom for water drainage, I angled the bucket mounts so water would just run out the front.
It is mounted under an eave of the building that will hopefully shield from some of our deluges (All bee keeping is local and here we must have water handling strategies :blush:).
The opening is facing south and it is shielded from the afternoon sun by the building on the west. I harvested some mud from the creek bottom and put it in the plastic container in front of the blocks. I think I’ll leave it up and see if anything comes to it. My bees won’t come until Feb.
One of the reasons for the bungee design, which makes it easy to move, is the concern many expressed here about extreme cold weather coming after their bees were put out. We are vulnerable to arctic dips too. (Dave at Crown Bees says the female returns to the nest at night - didn’t say whether the males did.) Anyway, in such an event it will be easy to undo the bungees, remove the chicken wire, cover the opening with the lid and bring it in after dark. The screen in the back will prevent bees from escaping into my house. :open_mouth:
OK so beta is up. If I haven’t thought of something please let me know. :blush:


If you get one of those small long-spouted watering cans you can keep the mud wet w/o having to remove the chicken wire


Great post Anne. I also tilt the tubes container. I just leave the mud below in an open margarine container below the tubes. They get rained on. I leave a side hole so the mud is always taller (and therefore accessible) than the rain drainage hole. I have to skim off the moss every 2-3 years.
Yes, ltilton, I agree. I keep a long spouted can available because some of my mud cans are hard to reach. Keep that mud handy in the spring and you’ll have a lot more bees call your place home.
John S


My own bees are sited near my veg garden, which is pretty much a mudhole in the spring, so I don’t have to supply it. Interestingly, the bees invariably head to the far corner, not the wettest spot, and dig their tunnels in the same place every year, as if they had a generational memory


Or, they know where to get the ‘good stuff’ :wink:


Seems to me, they fly past the best stuff, near the strawberry bed that I keep well-watered, to the other side

But they know what they’re doing, I suppose


Saw the first mason bees in my bee houses yesterday. Saw 7 bees in holes at night. I put out 100+ cocoons last week and maybe a half dozen hatched so far. All the bees are in natural wood rounds and none in my 2×4 habitats.


@barry , what r the natural wood rounds?


A few 8" lengths of 6" diameter dogwood with a bunch of 3/8 inch holes drilled in it. I lined the holes with parchment paper to make it easy to collect the cocoons in fall. The rounds are up against the house under an overhang wheras the 2×4 peices are attached to a tree but identical in terms of holes design, so they may be favoring the location rather than the material.


We have an invasive grass here, phragmites. I noticed the larger dried stalks looked the right size for mason bee tubes. I bundled up a few stalks, cut to length with a bandsaw and made hundreds of tubes quickly. I bundled them up using wire and put them under a a roof overhang. Forgot about them for months. I found wild bees had sealed about 75% of the tubes. I just let nature take its course and didn’t cut them open. I don’t know if they are the best material to use, but they are free, easy and disposable.


japanese knotweed ( also a invasive) works well too. thats what i use. its all over around here.


That’s great advice. We have this stuff all over the place. I ought to go collect some since the bees should start to become active in only a few weeks. Do you split the stems open to collect the cocoons or leave them be?