My mason bees decided to use the triangle space between the window trim and lap siding. Because I have fruittrees on all 4 sides of the house this worked very well. I had 2 containers of commercial tubes which they also filled. I will move these into high tunnels when I see the raspberries and plums blooming in them.
I was contemplating what to use for new nests in the tunnels; if I can't come up with some bamboo tubes, I may try the corrugated spiral shown in the video.
Zach, the blue orchard mason bee is native to most of North America. We raise them in Washington as well as multiple states throughout the US. Try placing out wood trays or reeds to see what uses them. Visit our website to learn more about these awesome little pollinators. Signing up for "Bee-Mail" has you being reminded when to do what!
Nicola, bamboo is not great to use as it's brutal to harvest from. Try phragmites or teasel. The EasyTears work well. Wood trays are the best as they retain the nesting scent from the previous season and are extremely easy to harvest from.
Owner, Crown Bees
Think outside the hive, raise native bees
Best movie on bees yet. Seriously fucking awesome. Got me thinkin, we should put out the word to the missoula permies people, that we need swarms of honeybees to populate the laboratory this coming spring. Now is the time to put the word out, that if there are people in the area willing to be on the lookout for swarms and contact us immediately, we can for sure have at least a couple of possibly-wild swarms. I think we should still strive to bait for swarms at the lab, but this could be another way to secure some colonies for the new equipment. We must emphasize the fact that once a swarm has been identified, we need to be notified immediately in order to have even a chance of catching it before it moves to another location.
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Very interesting and coincidentally (cooperating incidents) we made mason bee houses today at our local garden club meeting! They were made from yellow pvc pipe with a bottom glued to it and then stuffed with clear straws. Not being a huge fan of plastic, I am thinking of other materials to use, especially in place of the straws. Rolled up paper, or too fragile? Any ideas?
In reading up on mason bees, I learned that plastic straws are BAD for the tubes, because you can get mold inside them.. Rolled up paper, using a pencil as a guide, is probably better. They now have tubes of slightly varying diameters which can be more or less unrolled to harvest the cocoons in the fall and store them in the fridge over the winter to prevent predation and insure the majority survive. If you really want to be fancy, you can also buy wooden mason bee houses kind of like mini clamshells.
Check out Crown Bees, they seem to be the leader in the field.
I am looking for sources of mason bees. The crown bees site recommended above seems to be broken. I understand that the mason bees are native and will likely come if I off them housing, but for an educational project I am interested in purchasing a kit of sorts, with bees and tubes.
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Depends where you live - here in Seattle it would be too late to put out cocoons, assuming you could get some (which you can't).
For starting from scratch I would buy a few tubes, or try and find somebody who has excess cocoons in your area. Hoping for wild mason bees to populate your house is uncertain.