Mason Bee Motels for 2010; updated Mar 6

by Catherine Haug

Update log:

  • 3/6/10 adds link to John’s new handout that comes with the blocks, and sketch of attaching hardware cloth to keep out woodpeckers;
  • 3/3/10 on care instructions for those who purchased blocks last year;
  • 2/23/10 for prices;
  • 5/21/10 adds links to more informational files on bees and motels.

Mason Bee at nest

Mason Bee at nest

Last year ESP offered a gathering on Pollinators and their Habitat, which included a presentation by John Holbrook of Missoula, on native orchard mason bees. John showed us his bee motels and brought several with or without bee larvae, for sale. John’s photo, right, shows a bee preparing to enter its nest.

Those of us who installed the bee motels have noted that all the empty holes got filled by the industrious creatures with larvae for the coming year. This spring, they will hatch, leave the nest to forage and mate, and will need homes for their eggs. They don’t really like to use a nest that has been previously occupied.

Care of last year’s blocks, and new blocks at the end of the season

From John Holbrook:

Did you take down your blocks for winter storage last year? This is not really necessary unless you get severely harsh winter weather where you live. In that case, you would have moved them to unheated, protected outside storage (such as a shed or unattached garage).

In the spring, move them to working areas in your yard: garden plots, flower beds, etc.) when temperatures warm enough that the buds of fruit trees and other plants start to show tips of green.

If you left your blocks in-place outside, just leave them where they are or move them to new areas in your yard.

NOTE: there’s no need to refrigerate or freeze the blocks in the fall. Simply leave in place, or move to protected, unheated storage.

Reuse of blocks

The bees don’t really like to use a nest that has been used before. However, if you covered some empty holes of a new block with blue painter’s tape, you can uncover them to be used for nests this year.

Spent blocks can be burned in your wood stove.

Purchasing new blocks

Cost, etc.

2010 cost from John Holbrook:

  • $20.00 each for motels with some larvae
  • $3.50 each for empty motels

If you are starting your first year, John recommends at least one with larvae and at least one empty one for the new generation. After the first year, you just need more empty ones, as the bees do not like to use a nest that has already been used.

Interested in Making Bee Motels to Sell?

If you are interested in making empty bee motels to sell, please let me know so that I can alert our community of the opportunity. See the next section for files that describe how to build the bee motels.

For more information on Mason Bees

For more information on mason bees and their homes, see the gathering summary for last year’s event: Gathering Summary: Pollinators & their Habitats. The ‘Related Files’ section at the end of that document includes links for more information.

Here are some other files from John on Mason Bees:


3 Responses to “Mason Bee Motels for 2010; updated Mar 6”

  1. Brenda Woolhouse says:

    Where can I purchase bee hives so I can have for the upcoming spring. I have a large swarm that inhabits my Maple tree every year. I would love to give them a home and learn how to care for them and harvest honey.

  2. Catherine says:

    You are asking about honey bees, right (not mason bees)? You can refer to our Gathering Summary on Pollinators and their Habitat (pdf file): Tom Lawrence, our first presenter and a local expert on honey bees, gave an overview of the process (pages 1-4 of the pdf).

    For hives, try Cenex and Murdoch’s. If that’s a dead end, Tom Lawrence may know where you can purchase them (you can look him up in the phone book). And I’m sure there are online sources as well; simply google “honeybee hives.”

    I’d also suggest attending the presentation by Scott Debnam on “The Lifecycle of Honeybees,” to learn more about their care. That’s next Thursday the 14th, in Condon. See the event notice:

  3. Brenda Woolhouse says:

    Thanks Catherine for your response. Yes, I am referring to honey bees, so about the confusion. I really wanted to attend the meeting about bees, but got caught at work. I will look at the info you requested. Also, if I can’t find the hives, I will try Tom.