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Old 02-16-2010, 10:06 AM   #1
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Default Anyone use bee houses?

I would be interested in knowing your experiences.

I stumbled upon orchard bee houses this morning and they look like they could be easily constructed.

We are planting a garden this year and I plan on using nectar plants to attract bees amongst the vegetables. I *love* bees. They are amongst my favorite insects so I would love to cater to them.

I have some concern as to where I would place something like this - I know it needs to be in the sun, but I wouldn't want it too close to the garden, or would I? Would you place an orchard bee house right in the garden? I can't seem to find how high up they need to be placed - could I try it hanging from a shepherd hook?
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Old 02-16-2010, 10:39 AM   #2
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I have used bee nesting blocks for several years. Here's a link that I just posted on another thread that discusses bee blocks:
http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/for...ignaria-2.html

Close to the garden would be no problem. Most native bees are solitary bees. They do not form large hives like honeybees. They work independently, so there is no natural instinct to protect the hive. They are not aggressive, and rarely sting. It could happen if you got one caught in your clothing or something like that, but they are really not a cause for concern regarding stings.

Height is usually not a major concern. Mostly it's just keep them off of the ground, out of the snow and away from 4 legged critters that may want to use them for a meal. The typical height recommended for Mason Bees is about 4 - 6 feet, but this is mostly for the convenience of the person rather than the bees.

Bee nesting blocks should be secured to something solid. The female places each egg on a reserve of nectar and pollen, and then typically seals the cell. If the egg/larva is jarred off of the food reserve they may not be able to get back to it, and would be lost.
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Old 02-16-2010, 10:59 AM   #3
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Beautiful - thank you for that. I had run a search but came up with nothing.
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Old 02-16-2010, 12:04 PM   #4
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bumblebee Bee Houses

I have been making my own mason bee houses for years. I have used holes drilled into wood blocks and bamboo. If you are going to drill holes, they should be at least 4.5" deep. I have found the most sucess with holes at or greater than that depth, but have also had shorter holes used. I usually vary the hole size between 1/4 and 3/16. They also seem to prefer smooth entrance holes in my experience.

If using bamboo, you want clean, plain (not stained) bamboo. Try to use lengths 4.5" or longer. I have banded them together in a circle and also stuffed them into a rectangular wooden frame.

I would opt for the drilled version as I have had better luck with those. You can tell if they are inhabited if the ends get mudded over.

Good luck!
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Old 02-17-2010, 12:22 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimSaupe View Post
Beautiful - thank you for that. I had run a search but came up with nothing.
You're welcome. There may be a quirk in our search feature. I just ran a search on 'bee' and got the following results:
Quote:
Sorry - no matches. Please try some different terms. The following words are either very common, too long, or too short and were not included in your search : bee
However, if I run a search on 'bees' I get 46 results. A search on 'bee blocks' gets 5 results.

I sometimes forget that many of our forums have several pages of thread topics. This forum for example has 8 pages of thread titles.
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Old 02-21-2010, 08:24 AM   #6
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Default Orchard Mason Bee Nesting Box

I've been wanting to put up some nesting blocks for Orchard Mason bees but wanted something that wouldn't also serve as a woodpecker feeder and didn't have the fussy straws.

I read a book once which advocated the use of the straws and encouraged rinsing the cocoons as well!

There is also some research, if I remember correctly, indicating that if you drill your own wooden bee-block, more bees will be attracted if you actually lightly burn the front of it.

Recently I found this website, which seems to eliminate the straws for an entire remove-able unit, but I wonder if the light color will be as attractive. Although the ones he uses to advertise his seem to be working well. . .

Orchard Mason Bees Homes for sale online - Home
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Old 02-21-2010, 01:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Recently I found this website, which seems to eliminate the straws for an entire remove-able unit, but I wonder if the light color will be as attractive. Although the ones he uses to advertise his seem to be working well. . .

Orchard Mason Bees Homes for sale online - Home
His design is made from plastic (polypropylene), which is not recommended by the people doing research on mason bees. Plastic does not allow the excess moisture that enters the nest (nectar, high humidity, etc.) to escape. This can cause a lot of mold and fungus problems. He may have a situation in his area where the climatic conditions don't cause these problems, but I would avoid plastic unless it was proven to work in my area.
Bee Houses - Mason Bee Homes

The bees do prefer a dark entrance and hole, and this can be helpful if you are trying to attract mason bees to a new block. But, if as is usually the case, nesting holes are a scarce resource in your area, they will most likely accept lighter colored holes.
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Old 02-22-2010, 10:57 AM   #8
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bumblebee

There are some easier alternatives to the standard bee nesting block approach. One is the "system" method sold by Knox Cellars:
Knox Cellars Native Pollinators: Systems and Shelters
It's shown in the main photo for this forum:
Insects and Arachnids - Wildlife Gardeners - North American Wildlife Gardening
You can just buy the complete tubes (paper straw Liner, guard tube and end plug) and put them in an enclosure of your choice, or purchase the complete setup.

There's another method called the stacked tray system:
https://id408.van.ca.siteprotect.com/beediverse/catalog/popup_image.php?pID=40&osCsid=335e8ff5ed08a2722316 fceeaae3e03b
https://id408.van.ca.siteprotect.com/beediverse/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=29&products_id=40&osCsid=33 5e8ff5ed08a2722316fceeaae3e03b
In this method grooves are routed in wood boards with a 5/16ths inch round nose router bit and then stacked to form the bee nesting block. The individual trays are held together with bolts, large rubber bands, etc. They can be used with or without the paper straws. I have several blocks made this way and they are very convenient with respect to maintenance. Here's another supplier that makes this kind of nesting system:
http://www.pollinatorparadise.com/Market/Pricelist.htm#Osmia%20Binderboard

Perhaps the easiest way of all is to go around drilling 5/16th inch holes in dead trees, log piles, stumps, etc. Of course this method assumes that you have dead trees, etc., to work with.

One thing that hasn't been discussed yet is that the adult form of many native bees is relatively short. Many species are not present from spring to fall like honeybees or the native bumblebees. The adult life span of mason bees (Osmia lignaria), for example is typically only 4 - 6 weeks. In my area they are present from a little before the apples blossom until a little after the apples are done blossoming. They are remarkably tuned to the environmental conditions. If the apples blossom late, the bees emerge late. If the apples blossom early, the bees emerge early. So unless your vegetables and other fruit crops blossom at approximately the same time as the apples, the mason bees are not going to be there for pollination help. You'll need to rely on one of the other native bee species for later time periods.

Many of the other native bee species can be helped by the same methods used for mason bees. It just requires a different hole size. Leafcutter bees are later in the season and they prefer 1/4th inch holes; although they will use the mason bee holes if nothing else is available. For some of the other bee species I have nesting blocks with 3/16th and 1/8 inch holes.
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Last edited by NEWisc; 02-22-2010 at 11:51 AM. Reason: Added Pollinator Paradise link
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Old 02-22-2010, 11:25 AM   #9
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Does anyone know if different sized holes can be placed in the same block?
Or is it better to use different bee houses for different bees giving then some space.
I know some species seem to nest near others of the same kind but don't know if other species that close would disturb the nesting bees so not be used.
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Old 02-22-2010, 11:48 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gloria View Post
Does anyone know if different sized holes can be placed in the same block?
Or is it better to use different bee houses for different bees giving then some space.
I know some species seem to nest near others of the same kind but don't know if other species that close would disturb the nesting bees so not be used.
Yes, I have done this and it does work. After awhile though, I found it easier to simply have separate blocks with one hole size. They could be placed more strategically with respect to bee/plant relationships and I could make the blocks with small hole sizes quite small and still have plenty of nesting cavities.
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Last edited by Cirsium; 01-04-2011 at 01:22 AM.
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apis millifera, bee, bee block, bee habitat, bee hives, bee house, bee houses, bee nesting box, bees, bumblebees, digger bees, hives, honey bees, houses, leaf cutter bees, mason bees, mason wasps, native bee species, native bees, osmia lignaria

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