Mason Bee Keeping


It looks nice, what type of wood is that?


It’s just a cheap piece of pine. I had it lying around. I’d like to find some copper flashing to tack to the roof and seal it up but will probably have to settle for aluminum.


Copper would look nice especially as it aged.


A good resource for native bees is:
I have learned a lot from their books. Who knew there were so many native bees and other pollinators.


Will the cocoons be placed in that upper part?If so,be careful that the wind doesn’t blow them out,because they don’t weigh much. Brady


Yes sir. I plan to follow the tips suggested by Brushy Mountain and fold up some plastic cardboard sign material in an accordion style and use it to wedge it against the small box. Apparently a very common practice.


You also might have to protect them from hungry birds. I had to put some chicken wire around the house to keep the Robins from picking off the bees as the landed. Make sure you have some available water and mud nearby. I put some chicken wire around that too. Those bees must be like “candy” to my neighborhood birds.

I’ve learned to stagger the placement of a portion the cocoons about every two weeks. I divide my cocoons into thirds and put them out in two week intervals after I see the first blooms on my Honeyberries. This should mean that I should have bees around for just about all my trees in blossom. Once it’s warmed up here the Bumble Bees and Leaf Cutter bees take over.


Thanks for the tips. I’ve read that birds can be a problem. Funny thing is even during the summer I typically don’t see that many birds here. I put a birdhouse out at the beginning of winter for my daughter and I’ve not seen a single bird all winter long. But it wouldn’t hurt to put up wire mesh anyway.

Interesting about staggering the bees. Maybe I’ll try that as I’ve been agonizing about when I should put them out.


The birds in my neck of the woods pack their bags and head to Arizona come about November. But when springs arrives the Robins, Mountain Bluebirds, and others seem to congregate in my orchard. They eat almost any bug but they do seem to prey on my Mason Bees so a little protection for them is needed.


And damnsquirrels

One year I put a bee box out early on a trellis - the squirrels found it and tore up the nesting tubes to get to the cocoons [this being before I learned to remove the cocoons from the tubes first]


I asked this question in an earlier reply and didn’t get an answer. So I’ll try again.

If I were to let my bees out and they hatch and start pollinating what would happen to them if we got cold weather again? At what temps would the adult mason bees be harmed? Would they die at temps in the 20s? Or would they just hold up in the bee house and wait until warmer weather?


All those things could happen and some could die if the temps were below 25F for an extended period,say over a week.Even if they retreated to the nesting box and they’d probably do that,but the box isn’t going to provide much warmth and they need to eat some nectar and pollen for energy,which is done at the time a flower is visited.Plus their mud sources will most likely be frozen. Brady


This happens regularly, and they huddle in the bee house until the temps are iirc in the 50s again… Mine have never been killed off, but I’m sure they would if the weather were dire. Some people put their bees out on a staggered schedule, to prevent this


Thanks Brady and Lois. I think I’ll put half of them out soon and wait a while longer to put the others out. I’ just need to make sure I have both males and females in each batch. I’ve looked at the cacoons and there are indeed two different sizes. So it shouldn’t be that hard to do.


I was really lazy and never took the cocoons out of my mason bee house. I just cracked open the house and saw several white larvae. I would have thought they would have pupated by now. Any hope for them turning into actual bees?


I made this Mason bee house and put it out a few weeks ago. This is my first try at this. One hole is plugged up so far with another on its way. I decided against purchasing cocoons so these are native gals. It was not clear from reading articles that Mason bees were this far south. These are a bluish green color. Perhaps blue orchard masons, although I think there are several species in the east.


Thanks for posting. Now you have me wondering if I have time to make and put out a few. What size bit did you use and how deep did you drill. Thanks, Bill


I cut up a 2"×4"×10’ into 6 inch lengths and drilled them lengthwise completely through with a 3/8" drill bit, a long one. Then inserted rolled parchment paper, folded the tag ends over on the back side and screwed on a piece of 1"×4" on the back to seal it up. Slapped the 2x4 pieces together side by side.


Thanks. I like your plan in that it is simple enough for me to make and it can be cleaned out for reuse. Bill


Would have been a lot easier with a drill press, but it was still doable, just tedious drilling.

I still have yet to see one on a flower. Only have seen them just inside the holes in the evening or after dark. Mostly bumblebees and carpenters on my blueberries.

I think you are an hour or two north of me so I’d bet you can still get some. Monday this week was my first sighting and I think they are active for a month or so.