There are lots of opinions about which nesting material Mason Bees prefer, so I decided to do some experimenting this year:
In this bee house I placed an assortment of bamboo, hollow reeds, and my cardboard tubes. The bees have been nesting for about six weeks now, and as you can see, the clear winner is. . . my cardboard tubes! 14 cardboard tubes are filled, and ZERO bees have nested in the bamboo or hollow reeds. Yessssss! I have other ongoing experiments this season, so more on those results in other posts.
I hope someone can shed some light on this cool find:
I retrieved a box of empty mason bee cocoons that had been placed in early Spring, 2012. When I opened the box in March, 2013, I found three black spiders (about 1/2″ wide), and three of their egg chambers. (You can probably tell that my spider knowledge is limited. ;-)
But the thing that fascinated me is that many of the mason bee cocoons had changed color and texture.
Roll Your Own Nesting Straws!
If you want to save some money and have some time to kill, try rolling your own native bee nesting straws. You can multi-task while you watch TV!
- Buy a roll of Parchment Paper (Costco and most food stores sell it.) You can also use kraft paper, but the non-stick surface of the parchment won’t absorb the nectar that the female bee will place inside.
- Tear off 7” widths, then cut those pieces into ~ 4” lengths. (These measurements don’t need to be exact.)
- It makes it a bit easier if you tear off some pieces of masking or scotch tape in advance, so they’re ready when you need them. About 1-1/2” long is plenty.
- Place a #2 pencil on the long edge of the paper, leaving the eraser hanging off the end.
- Roll the pencil snugly up in the paper, but loose enough that it will slide out easily.
- With the pencil still in place, wrap a piece of tape AROUND the paper straw, near one end, so that the tape sticks to itself. (Taping along the seam won’t work since the tape doesn’t adhere to the parchment paper.)
- Turn the paper straw around and remove the pencil. Fold over about ½” of the end and secure it with another piece of tape. Voila!
I’m always experimenting with different habitat for mason bees – colors, shapes, hole depth, location. Anything I can think of that might entice them to nest, and teach me something new. Here’s my latest discovery:
I’d seen this yellow-faced male Carpenter Bee checking out this crevice in my ‘bee condo’ for a couple of days. On a cool morning, I waited to see if he had spent the night in there. Sure enough, as soon as the temps warmed a bit, out he came – followed by four of his male pals! The nesting female Orchard Mason Bees didn’t seem the least bit intimidated.