Mason Bee Keeping

From what I’ve read Mason bees emerge and are active at 54 degrees versus 59 for honey bees. And Mason Bees will fly in light rain versus honey bees who will not fly in the rain.

From a pollination standpoint they seem like they are hard to beat. Their lifespan seems to coinside perfectly with fruit tree bloom season. The only downside I see is that they have a small range of about 300 feet so multiple nesting boxes are necessary for those of you that have trees spaced all over your property or large orchards. For me though their short range is a benefit. They won’t be wasting their time in my neighbor’s yard and can focus on my trees.

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Bill, does your Orient bloom before blueberries because Mason bees are said to be great for blueberries. The article you linked to said their emergence is around the same time as redbud blossoms which is one of the earliest things to bloom around here. The only thing I’m wondering is if they will be early enough for apricots.

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I have been really trying to figure out how to a bee house in a place my wife won’t immediately identify. She’s hyper terrified of bees and won’t listen to me that they are not interested in her (except right after she lightens her hair with products containing UV dyes) but to no avail. While scouting locations, I found a tree ravaged by woodpecker holes, some of which seemed capped off by something. I was wondering if wild bees may already be living in my yard. Do mason bees inhabit woodpecker holes?

Trying to answer my question I found:


I have seen mason bees on blooms of my apricots and earliest plums/pluots. It’s early February here in California. I don’t know where these mason bees nest, maybe they use an old wooden fence.


My blueberries will start blooming some years in February which is well before my earliest pears. Not a mason bee expert but I’m pretty sure that I have seen these bees and a larger bumble bees visiting my berry blooms. There might be another issue in that typically pears don’t seem to attract pollinators as well as other plants.


I see them pollinating my aprium, which is earliest of all my blooms. My usual worry is that there is nothing in bloom for them when they hatch.

I’ve heard that about not moving them until late, but that risks exposure to wasps, which are very very small. As soon as they’ve cocooned, they’re safe to move. I used to find wasp larvae when I checked the cocoons, now that I bring them in early, I don’t.


I’ve tried two approaches. One is this house from amazon and the other is these cardboard tubes . After reading the info about what mason bees prefer I placed the tubes in a sheltered area, with morning sun, near a supply of mud, near plants where I’ve seen mason bees. The bees have ignored it for two years. Not one single bee. The house, on the other hand, sitting in the shade, attracts at least 3 species of bees, but none of them are mason bees. Most of the spaces in the house are used by bees that reproduce during the warm weather-that is the young are laid and emerge from the house during the same season.


Have you ever thought about purchasing mason bees and placing their cocoons near the bee house so that when they emerge they will naturally take the house over?


I have, and maybe I will this year. Do you have a recommendation on which bee vendor/source to use?

I do not. This will be my first year ordering them as well. Crown Bees seems to be the largest online vender but I’ve priced out as many sources as I can. Most places seem to sell 20 cocoons for about $25-$35 dollars.

The best price I’ve found is at where they sell 20 cocoons for $25 or 40 cocoons for $47.

Just make sure where ever you buy them from to specify eastern or western bees depending on your location.

Here in the twin cities (Minneapolis/ St. Paul) someone is selling Mason bees on Craigslist .50 cents per bee. Maybe check Craigslist in your area?

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I had a really bad experience with Crown Bees. Talked to them about trialing mason bees here at my orchard. They said it would be a good fit. Bought several hundred dollars worth of bee houses and bees on their recommendation. Come bloom time we put the cocoons out and waited to see the bees start hatching and get to work. Yeah none did. Or very few. When I asked crown bees about it they now claimed that our bloom was too early and the bees hadnt been dormant long enough. Well shit. Thanks guys for selling me this bunch of stuff that is useless. They knew when my bloom was. They pretty much told me to pound sand when I complained.

So beware.

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Sorry to hear that - my experience with them has always been positive

Hello, new here but something to add. I thought about getting into mason bees but when I was thinking of this I let my basil patch flower. That attracted about 30 or so carpenter bees to visit the basil and each fruit in my garden. I had no use for the tons of basil so this fixed two problems for me. For those that are in the South (9a for myself) this might be a decent thing to try.

Mason bees are amazing for the orchardist! They come out earlier than honey bees and are much more efficient at pollinating. They increase moderately every year. They are native most places in US. They don’t sting you. They usuallly come out Feb-June here, but we’re not as cold as many places in US.

Here is an article that I wrote for the Pome News, The newsletter of the Home Orchard Society:

Make a Home for Mason Bees.docx (13.1 KB)

John S


Yesterday I received the mason bees I ordered from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm. Now I’m in a quandary about when to put them out. I have them in my fridge right now but since this is my first time using mason bees I’m a bit unsure of what I should do. I have nothing blooming at the moment. My pluots and apriums will be the first to bloom in a few weeks. But after that I’m not sure what the timing will be. Last year my first bloom was March 16th for Nanking Cherries and the pluots bloomed March 20th.

I’ve read that males can emerge after 3 consecutive days of 55 degree temps. I want to make sure that when they emerge they have a pollen source available. I think I’ll wait until early to mid march and set the bees outside at the bee box I built. Maybe buy some flowers and set them near the box in case of blooming problems.

Does anyone know what will happen to mason bees if they emerge and then we suffer a cold spell of extended temps in the 20’s? what about teens? At what point will the cold kill these bees off?

Did you find the wasp larvae throughout the tubes or only in the outer most cell(s)? That Alabama extension article had an interesting statement: “males are considered expendable and are laid at the end of the tunnel.” Made me think males were placed at the end of the tube to take the hit from predatory wasps. After all, you only need one male to survive per generation to propagate the population. Curious if my interpretation of that article matches your re-world observations.

These have been on my “to do” list but I haven’t learned much about them yet, so everyone’s contribution to this threat is very interesting and helpful!

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Randomly, here and there

The cacoons are tiny and after looking at how little amount I seemed to have gotten I can see why people are in business. You could make a good living selling these things.

The bee house is almost finished. We will see how these bees do.