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I Made This! - Mason Bee NeststeemCreated with Sketch.

in beekeeping •  9 months ago

Made a little mason bee nest out of reclaimed scrap wood that was headed to the dump. Turned out nice if I do say so myself.

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Before shots.

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I used a router and router board with a 3/8 inch box core bit set to 5/16 inches deep. The hole size and depth is important too small or too big and the mason bees won't use it. Smaller holes will attract many different native bee species such as leafcutter and resin bees. There are a few larger bee species that may use the bigger holes but not very many. It is also important that the holes do not go all the way through as the bees prefer a dark hole with a solid back. If you can't find a round nose router bit that is fine you can use a square headed straight bit the bees don't mind too much it just takes them a little more mud to seal the square holes. If you don't have a router you can use a table saw with a fence to make the grooves.

The sides of the nest are made out of cereal box cardboard glued on with some nontoxic kids glue. I hit the outside of the cardboard with some spray paint to help weather proof the cardboard so it will last all season. At the end of the season you remove the sides to harvest the mason bee cocoons for safe storage.

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Can the holes and tunnels be square and still attract the bees

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Yes, the bees don't seem to mind the shape of the hole as long as it has a light blocking back to it. The holes on commercial trays go all the way through and they use a tightly fitted cardboard backing. Some one smarter than me determined that the square holes need more mud to seal and so make the bees work just a little bit harder than those bees using round holes. But yes square holes will work just fine.

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Thanks. I have some offcuts that could be pressed between two panels, but still keep the idea of your design.

I’ve never heard of mason bees. Why would you harvest their cocoons?

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Mason bees have a variety of pest and diseases mainly parasitic wasps, small mites, and chalk brood fungus. Harvesting the cocoons interrupts and breaks the disease/pest life cycle. You can use simple holes drilled into wood but after 2 or 3 years your population will crash. Some people use paper or cardboard tubes to line the hole so the bees can be managed and cared for.

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Thanks! Very interesting. I guess I'm going to have to read up on them more and decide if I want to build a home for them here on my homestead.