I’ve wanted to keep bees since I took a beekeeping class at Evergreen last year. The proble, however, is that bee hives take a while to get going, are large, and I want to be around for a few years when I do it so that they have time to really get established. That’s for honey bees though.
I’ve been hearing rumblings about mason bees for a while and I decided to do some research. Mason bees are solitary little creatures. The female lays her eggs in existing wood holes and pollinates your garden. Apparently two or three mason bees can pollinate the equivalent of a mature apple tree each spring. Neither male or female bee is able to sting. While they don’t make honey they do pollinate your garden. Plus mason bee houses are super easy to build. All you have to do is find a thick block of untreated wood (between 4-6 inches) and drill 5/16″ holes as far into the wood as you can without drilling through the other side. Space the holes 3/4″ apart. Block should be erected in early spring and placed at least three feet above the ground.
Position block to face southeast, allowing it to get morning sun. That’s the basic house.
I found this sweet one over at Free Range Living where there’s a great explanation about mites and how to clean out your bee house. You can buy all manner of mason bee houses if you don’t want to spend time constructing one yourself.
This has a very sweet exterior… I can’t figure out how they deconstructed it to get to the insides (see below photo). I would LOVE to have a little bee house like this! It looks really easy to clean out and take care of (plus it’s home to leaf cutter bees as well!).
It might be a little too late to start this for this year, but it might not be. My garden is just starting to bloom so maybe some mason bees would move into my house if I made one this week. Maybe not. It’s on my list!