How To Build a "Suite" Mason Bee Hotel Attract Super Pollinators to your Yard, Garden or Orchard
Mason bees are beneficial for your yard, garden and orchard.
These solitary orchard bees are exceptional pollinators, leading to healthier plants and a more vibrant ecosystem.
Mason bees are gentle and don’t sting to protect their nests, making them safe to be around children and pets. Their presence in your garden or backyard can be a delightful and educational experience.
The video below shows why these friendly little bees are so amazing, and why you should consider building a cozy bee hotel to attract them.
Today, we’ll delve into the fascinating world of pollination, focusing on two unsung heroes – the Mason and Leafcutter bees. “Solitary” orchard bees like these are super pollinators, boasting an impressive 95% pollination rate, far surpassing honeybees. In this article, we’ll explore why Mason bees are the bee’s knees and how you can create a cozy Mason Bee Hotel right in your backyard.
Our beloved busy bee hotel was fully booked for breadth of the balmy summer season. We had bounty of blossoms this year, and a bunch of beautiful buzzing bees waited with bated breath for a brand new bee bungalow to become available in our breezy backyard. Behold, a bevy of beneficial bee bodies needed beds to begin bedecking for their bee baby bedrooms. This booming bee bonanza begged for a brilliantly bold plan-B to bolster the burgeoning bevy of bustling bees beyond the basic, brimming hotel that was bursting at the seams.
Time to brainstorm a bit to briskly build bonus branch bunks in a bee box for these beleaguered beings before the buffet of blooming buds became barren.
OK… enough with the “B” talk. I’ll bee good!
No Room at the Inn
Many other species of beneficial wild native bees share the same amazing pollination abilities, and are happy to nest in a Mason Bee Hotel.
Bee hotels can host a wide variety of solitary orchard bees, but for this article, I’ll just call them Mason bees.
A quick solution to the limited space for our native bees was to simply buy a prefab bee house.
We quickly discovered that many commercial Mason Bee Hotels were designed to be cute, but weren’t necessarily the best environment for the bees.
Many hotels use glued-in bamboo tubes that cannot be cleaned and may have sharp edges, posing risks to the bees. Lots of them do not provide protection from rain and weather. Moreover, some hotels lack sufficient depth in the tubes for the females to lay their eggs comfortably.
Building our own Bee Hotel annex to give our buzzy little friends a place to make their nurseries was the solution.
With these considerations in mind, let’s explore how to create your own Mason Bee Hotel that provides the perfect accommodations for these buzzing guests.
“Solitary” doesn’t mean anti-social!
“Solitary” bees don’t have hives, queen bees or worker bees. They don’t make honey, so they don’t sting to protect the nest.
Summary of Steps:
1. Create the Pod Housings: Use large tubes, such as 4-inch corrugated drainage pipes or PVC pipes, to house the cardboard bee nesting tubes. Ensure the tubes are recessed inside the pods, and prevent them from sliding out by applying a double layer of aluminum foil to the ends of the pods. Pack the pods with cardboard nesting tubes that have paper sleeve inserts.
2. Construct the Hotel Structure: Use solid wood for the sides and cross brace rails to provide structural strength. Create semicircle cutouts on the cross brace rails to hold the pods securely. Assemble the sides and cross brace rails using 1 ½ inch construction screws.
3. Add Back and Roof Panels: Attach ⅜ inch sheathing plywood to the back and roof using screws, providing extra rain protection by overlapping the roof panel.
4. Install Mesh Screen: Attach ½ inch hardware cloth or chicken wire on either side of the hotel using strips of scrap wood to protect the tubes from predators and birds.
5. Add Shingles (Optional): For aesthetic appeal, screw down 3 ½ inch wide fence pickets as shingles on the roof.
6. Secure the Hotel: Fasten the bee hotel to a sturdy structure or post at least 5 feet off the ground, where it will receive early morning sunlight in early spring.
The video above goes into much greater detail on building this Bee Hotel and shows schematics with dimensions.
Congratulations! With just a few simple steps, you’ve built your very own Mason Bee Hotel, ready to accommodate these buzzing marvels in your backyard. Your new hotel will not only be a cozy nesting place for these incredible pollinators but also contribute to a thriving ecosystem in your yard. Enjoy observing these friendly and beneficial Mason bees as they make your garden their home. If you found this guide helpful, be sure to let us know in the comments and post a picture if you build one.
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