Traditionally, many people have used PVC tubes for mason bee homes. They work pretty well, except that if you have to buy 8 feet of tube it can be rather expensive.
I went to RESTORE, the Habitat for Humanity store where they resell housing supplies. My local one is in Beaverton. They had 8 foot tubes for 50 cents! Try to get that price at Home Depot. In addition, since these tubes were designed for French drains, they are already black on the inside and white on the outside, the preference for mason bees. They stay cooler in the sun and look like a better hiding place inside. They also don't heat up as much as metal.
I know some of you subscribe to the Crown Bees newsletter. The guy is very helpful in explaining a lot of important information about many solitary bees, not just mason bees. I got a lot of my information from them as well as from this site.
For example, I noticed that on my mulberry and quince trees, the tubes were very quickly 100% full. They say you need to put out more empty teasel or other tubes then, because obviously, the mason bees love it and want to make more babies there. Each year you'll get better and better pollination and fruit set.
Good tip, John. I hadn't thought of going to RESTORE for that sort of thing.
I got a bunch of scrap cedar fencing, I am going to try making some houses from two boards and a piece of shock cord (bungee). My teasel seems to need something stretchy to hold the bundle together, due to the thickness of the joint which causes the bundle to form more of a cone vs. a cylinder.
And speaking of teasel, now is the time to harvest it for mason bee tubes. I have been refining my harvest technique a bit, with better results. I took some video of the process, when I get a chance I'll add some words and throw it up on youtube.
Regarding Teasel and Davem, Did you get the chance to ever upload one?
Thanks to good inputs from people I have gotten used to the teasel idea too. But most recently i think I found into something more versilile than teasel and want to know what it is and what you think so here we go into the 2 new still pictures.
Upload one of 3 cut sizes of the new reed verses the one old teasel and surrounded by blue at the top:
The three in question are a softer product and easier to find the 5/16 inch perfect sized opening for mason bees.
First upload is not enough to identify the name so here's the rest. It's two in this next picture with a zoom on the reproductive vegitation. much od the seed has yet to shed. So just imagine reeds growing as plentiful as teasel are seen, equally as tall, and in this case on 82nd avenue E, and just northbound of Sandy and on right hand side. Sorry but teasel are not found here.
I don't think this is the milkweed that was mentioned for mason bees one time.
My BIG apologies to anyone there may be who my directions got misguided because there are Teasel found among these and they are much further towards PDX airport from Sandy. I should have stated Columbia and the northbound turn onto 82nd avenue because I was just there. The same intersection has both kinds at the south intersection side as well where conditions are not conducive to being waterlogged. Sorry about the mistakes.
What ever this reed is I really think they will be more useful compared to teasel when releasing the now dormant mason bees ultimately into cleaner storage.
Do you know what time of year teasel seeds are ready? We had a local farm that had teasel, but when they asked us to come about a week ago all the seeds were gone.
Even if the seeds are gone, you can gather the tubes. That's what you make the mason bee homes out of.
I don't currently need the tubes. I have some tubes already. The mason bees this spring were sparse, so the tubes I had were unused. I would like to grown teasel on my property, (several acres plenty of room). I can buy the seeds but would rather not.
I think the heads turn blue in the mid summer when they are ready.