February 4, 2021
hey sorry I'm new here and I apologize I'm in the completely wrong section. I plan on housing mason bees or leaf cutter bees this spring. I have built a house that is a foot tall including the space up top for releasing I do get any this season. its 5 1/2 inches deep and 5 inches wide. I have got tubes of 5/16 inch and smaller and filled it with tubes and sticks to give it a variety. its on a south facing wall that gets a lot of sun and is places 5 feet above my flower garden. I have dug a hole because here in Kansas we have pretty clay like soil. I'm just worried I won't attract any bees so should I purchase them? see if anyone has an extra tube or so? or just wait and see if they pop up naturally. I've seen mixed results. any tips or help is more than appreciated. again sorry I'm a newbie.
March 16, 2015
Do you have any fruit trees or bushes that have been flowering the last few years? I would probably put the box by them. I find 5 1/2 inches is not deep enough. The average length should be 6 inches, leave a little room for a rain roof. I would prefer 8 inches deep or more. Facing South in Kansas may be too hot and could roast them in the summer. I would face SE. I use that direction here.
March 25, 2015
Mason bees have occupied a single hole drilled into brick siding every year for the last 30 before the time I even knew what they were. Since finding out what they were I found they track ridges looking for new holes for homes. If one of my gutters looks like it has a woody object they will sniff it out. Otherwise continuing on all the way around other edges of the gutters. So ridges are how to attract them. Any white gutter or white window frame with a dark object screwed to it will be inspected and moved into. My brick hole must be short but it also is situated on the brick edge next to a white door.
On a skinny support pole and very near a home is a bad place. The house shape and color contrasts will out compete the shape of something like that. I've watched them fly and seen empty blocks. Maybe you should not cover your wood with a foil reflective metal roof either. I noted bees inspecting wood holes covered with tin and they never choose to go inside metal objects. They enter a hole then sense something odd and 10 seconds later move into the uncovered wood block next to the one with no metal.
March 16, 2015
They don't prefer wood blocks. If you look on the Crown bees site, you can see that they greatly prefer natural reeds to them. I bundle them in bungee cords so squirrels won't pull one out to eat the larvae. I make mine out of teasel and Himalayan honeysuckle stems, but others would work too.
March 25, 2015
March 27, 2015
Then for this year I got the hollowed out teasel idea from you. I would like to know how you guard the exterior of the reeds from predatary wasps depositing eggs through the walls?
I've been using teasel for Osmia lignaria for about 10 years. I take all of my houses down Memorial Day weekend and put them in our treehouse which has windows with screens (I leave the windows cracked open year round). In my area (SW WA/PDX) the predatory wasps become active after Memorial Day. Occasionally there are a few straggler bees also active until then so they are probably quite upset with me. But the losses from mono wasps will be way worse than losing the eggs from a few stragglers.
I think the mono wasps have a harder time drilling through teasel vs. cardboard, paper, or phragmites reeds. In fact if the teasel wall is thick, the wasps cannot drill through. But the best option is to just protect the tubes by putting them in a shady, dry outdoor space that is protected from wasps and squirrels. If you don't have an outdoor structure, I would put them in a tightly closed cloth sack and hang them under an eave on the north side of your house.
I've never had leafcutters so I cannot advise on those.
March 25, 2015
Dave: I thought we may need to protect tubes so my idea with teasel is building something wood around the tubes like on the right. Thanks.
John: This arrow pointing to the metal can. This is what I said thought had caused bees to look inside and not like it. One hole got filled by something after summer and it isn't the all familiar mud cap. So they looked inside and refused it. The bigger block under the arrow got all filled before the halfway point apple flowering. Then months later squirrels and birds perch there and have since harvested the first chamber of bees.
March 16, 2015
It's possible that a log with holes drilled into it can be filled by mason bees. Crown bees has done many, many trials, and they show that natural reeds fill up much faster. I guess it depends on how many mason bees you want. Also, if they become filled with parasites, how do you clean out the log? The bungee cord around the bundle of stems has stopped the squirrels cold.
April 6, 2015
. . . should I purchase them? see if anyone has an extra tube or so? or just wait and see if they pop up naturally. I've seen mixed results. any tips or help is more than appreciated. again sorry I'm a newbie.
If you are near undisturbed/non-landscaped areas like parks or woods or pastures there may be a population of solitary bees that will make use of your tubes. Having lots of forage in bloom will attract more bees and they will be looking for nesting holes. Densely populated residential areas with new landscaping might not have so many bees.
Plant cilantro, oregano, and carrots and let them flower. You should attract loads of bees. Some will fill 1/8" holes. Carrot is biennial so maybe buy a couple untrimmed carrots at the grocery store and plant them if you want results this year.
I have mason bee blocks directly under a big-leaf maple. They really go after that pollen.
Montana uses leaf cutter bees to pollinate alfalfa for seed production. When driving through Montana I used to think that the shelters in the alfalfa fields were abandoned calf shelters. Turns out they shelter for stacks of trays for leaf cutter bees.
There are a couple forum threads about bees, I posted photos of blocks I made in the first one:
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