Mason Bee Habitat Measurements

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From 3/8th inch Plywood – “Cut and Assemble

2 ea 9X8           Sides

1 ea 12X8         Back

1 ea 12X13       Top

1 ea 9X13         Bottom

This “box” will hold “six – ½ gal plastic milk cartons (just cut off the top, making a six inch plastic container)”.  This box will hold about 450 “Roll Your Own” paper Nesting Tubes, enough for about 4000, “Pollinating Bees”.  These Mason Bees pollinate your trees, March-May/June – when nothing else is out to pollinate.  They only live about 100 days, then die, but have laid their eggs for next year’s crop.

Save and cut to the length of a Nesting tubes (about 5 ½ inch) – empty plastic ½ gal milk cartons.  Roll about 450 Nester Tubes.  Simply take used printer paper – cut in half – each half one about 5 ½  X  4 ¼  inch.  I then fold these, just short of half way – then with a “Fast Food” straw – place the straw in the fold, put a dash of white Elmer’s glue on the paper near the fold (just to hold it together) and roll up – finish with a bead of glue along the top seam, seal, remove your finished Nesting tube, and repeat!  After rolling your tubes –get a package of “Modeling Clay” – flatten to about 1/4th inch, and by stamping one end of each tube into the clay, fill one end.  Fill your cut milk cartons with the empty tubes, and place in your Habitat box. Watch TV, turn off mind – make about 80 per hour.

In Feb. place the “Habitat Box” containing “one-milk carton of egg filled tubes, or as many as you have toward the one carton, along with five cartons of empty tubes – into the garden, on a wall (not on the ground) and near flowering trees or flowers – face West.  Be sure to avoid any rain or water getting onto the Tubes.  In mid June, your will all Bee activity stop – take the Bee Box from garden and place in your garage, or a sheltered area until the following February and repeat the process.

At the end of April – take the Nesting tubes that have hatched their bees (you will see a hole in the mud at the front of the tube), and discard into your compost pile (the bees will not refill those same tubes with fresh eggs) refilling or replace the container with empty Nesting Tubes.

I would suggest when you collect your box at the end of June – you separate the filled tubes from the empty – and start new boxes for the following year, from the excess of filled tubes. Each female will fill 2-6 of fresh clean nesting tubes, so you need lots of empty tubes each year.  You have just started a growing family, but the world can always use more of these bees.  DO NOT REUSE OLD TUBES!

“Where do I get the filled starter bee tubes”? Ask your gardening friends if they grow Mason Bees – of if they know anyone who does – they will give you some, if not they are available from most nurseries’ or on-line.  If you have to buy them, three to six tubes will start your own new nest.

[Added 2017]

More resources about native bees and orchard Mason bees:

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