Mason bees are solitary bees that pollinate orchards and gardens. Unlike carpenter bees, mason bees do not burrow into wood. Instead, mason bees use holes created by woodpeckers and insects or natural cracks and crevices in trees and houses. Mason bees are industrious pollinators that work in cooler weather than honeybees. To encourage mason bees, build a bee lodge from a recycled coffee can and bamboo. Hang it under the eaves or on a fencepost in the garden.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Large coffee can
- Deck screws, 1 1/2 inches
- Drill with screwdriver bit
- Bundle of small bamboo sticks
- Measuring tape
- Metal skewer
- Fine-grit sandpaper
Screw a recycled coffee can under the eaves of the house or a shed, driving three or four screws through the bottom of the can and into the wall.
Measure the holes in the bamboo sticks. The holes must measure between 1/4 and 3/8 inch in diameter.
Cut the bamboo sticks into 8-to-10-inch sections, just below a joint. Push a metal skewer into each stick, making sure the centre is open and at least 6 inches deep. Sand the end of each stick lightly to remove any splinters.
Insert the bamboo into the coffee can, with the open end of the sticks facing out. Push all the way into the back so the bamboo is sheltered from wind and rain.
Tips and warnings
- Use a plastic bucket or other recycled container to hold the bamboo sticks. Mason bees are not fussy; as long as the sticks are horizontal and the correct diameter, the bees will lay their eggs.
- If bamboo is not available, large paper straws are a suitable substitute.
- Place the lodge in a dry location. The larvae and immature bees will remain in the nest until spring.
- Mason bees are affected by mites and parasitic wasps. Discard the bamboo immediately after hatching; rebuild the bee lodge every other year to prevent infection.
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