May 14, 2014

 

These are not for Bumblebees

Living in rural PEI, I have a great fascination with bees watch them all summer as they tirelessly work pollinating all the trees and blooms in my yard. I carefully catch any strays who enter the house or more often my shop and gently release them back outdoors.

The orchard, solitary or mason bees lay their eggs in holes packed with mud in anything from the keyhole on your lawn tractor to small holes in posts etc. I have made ‘houses’ to encourage this for a few years, adding to my collection each year. I love to see the holes filled, then in the fall I put the houses in my shed so the overwintering birds will not peck them out. Early in the spring I put them outside again, close to my flowering trees, shrubs and gardens. So much fun to do, it is worth the tiny effort to help the bees.

solitary or mason bee house

One I just made out of left over douglas fir.

Sadly PEI is one of the provinces who are not so kind to them, I cannot understand why a place that has agriculture listed as a major ‘industry’ here does not value the bees, the constant spraying and application of chemicals from lawn pesticides to farm spraying is so prevalent here. These all have a detrimental effect on our native and honey bee populations and with permits given to ‘test’ new chemicals in fields this year that are very toxic to bees. I worry about them. I think we have to try to help them out. Bees pollinate nearly 1 in 3 of all the fruits, veggies, and nuts that we eat. A good reason not only help bees but to speak out for them if you can!

mason solitary bee house

Another turned bee house, love this one it is on an iron stake sits among high coreopsis blooms.

A wide variety of commercially made wooden bee houses are available but much of the fun is making your own. The beauty of home-made bee houses is that you can use re-cycled or waste wood and logs and make them for virtually nothing. Female bees fill the ‘cells’ with their eggs as well as nectar and pollen for the young to eat.

mason solitary bee house

Turned knotty beech bee house that I have had for about 6 years.

Along with the enjoyment you get from watching the cells in your solitary or mason bee house fill up you can boost your garden’s productivity by providing a happy home for these peaceful, non-aggressive Bees. Slightly smaller than a honey bee, Mason bees are incredible pollinators, visiting as many as 1,000 blooms a day; 20 times more than a honeybee! Hang your house against a tree or a wall where it will get morning sun.

So easy just simply hang it and they will come! You can build up quite a population after several years, they are excellent pollinators especially in orchards or yards with lots of gardens. These bees are active in early spring to mid summer when the fruit flowers are in bloom. They are adapted to a cool climate and can fly in chilly, even drizzly weather. They are non-aggressive and gentle, not likely to sting, these bees are a great way to educate kids about the importance of bees to our natural world.

mason solitary bee house

Log slice solitary bee house, holes drilled on both sides.

Nest boxes with plastic‐lined, plastic or paper tubes can be worse for bees than houses with simpled bored wood nest holes. The main reason is the possibility of mold especially in the paper tubes if they get wet which makes drilling out wood holes a better way, it also mimics a natural hole in wood logs, trees. Don’t use plastic or straws. I drill holes 1/4, 5/16 and 3/8 ths in the wood, about 3 inches deep.
how to make a mason solitary bee house

Holes drilled in a spruce log slice

So quick and easy to make your own out of any scrap wood you have, it is best to have a small roof or overhang to keep the cells dry.
making bee house

Chunk of douglas fir for bee house

 

making bee house

Drilling holes 3 inches deep.

making bee house

Douglas Fir bee houses..took less than an hour from start to finish!!

I hang mine near my flower and vegetable gardens and by a huge crab apple tree that will be a buzz in a few weeks when the blossoms open. My grandkids love to see the cells fill up, the houses are constantly checked  by the little peeps during the summer.

mason solitary bee house

Another douglas fir house.

And we cannot forget about the butterflies..here is their shelter that sits among my flowers. The butterflies rest in here during rainy weather and at night.

butterfly house

I also have a butterfly house that provides shelter to those beauties, i put twigs inside.

So if you have a drill bit and drill, some scrap wood take an hour and build a bee house..you will never regret it..you will just build more!

 

The post How to make a Mason Bee House and help save the native bees. appeared first on Cattails Woodwork by Brenda Watts.





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