Where to mount a house for your Mason Bees?
Mount it on the south or east side of your house, shed, or directly on a fence that gets morning sun. Nest height can be eye level—bees will ignore you so put it where you can watch them. Mason Bees need mud to build their nests- if there is no immediate source of mud you can place a bucket with moist soil next to the nest; this eliminates the bee’s need to leave your yard.
Avoid mounting Mason Bee Houses in the following locations
- Bees can’t process colour and detail at high speeds, so avoid trees or clothesline posts.
- Try to avoid fully shaded areas. Shade later in the day is fine.
- Avoid areas that are too high up and or windy.
How to Release your Mason Bees:
- Pick a nice, calm day when the minimum temperature at Noon is not less than 11°C. (If your garden is in bloom 14°C is recommended.)
- Place the cocoons alongside your empty nesting material or bee house. The container that the cocoons come in can be taped to the side, the front or the bottom of the house- get creative! As long as the container is out of the wind and the bees can easily get to the nesting tubules you should be successful.
- You can purchase a Bee Attractant Mat that can be placed in your Bee House to encourage bees to come and nest. The mat contains natural nesting scent that the bees are attracted to.
- Watch bees come and go, no bee keeping equipment needed!
Mason bees are non-aggressive, do not live in hives, and are wonderful pollinators. Male bees have no stingers, and females are not aggressive because they are too busy with all their responsibility. Help our native bee population and nurture some mason bees!
Release, Storage and Cleaning
Mason bees are best kept refrigerated until they hatch in early May. Place the cocoons near empty nesting material or a bee house on clear calm sunny day with a temperature of at least 11˚C. You can tape or place the container of bees on or near the bee house, as long as it is protected from wind.
Make sure the bees can access the nesting tubes easily. Ensure there is a source of mud nearby so the bees do not have to go far to construct their nest.
You can purchase a Bee Attractant Mat, which can be placed in the bee house. This contains a natural nesting scent that will encourage bees to nest.
In the next few hours to days the bees will begin to emerge. The females will release a single small sac filled with nutrients for each of the growing larva behind the wall of mud, she may do up to 6 cells in this manner in each nesting tube.
This will last until the end of June, when the next then goes dormant. At this time it is best to bring the nest into a covered storage area with the holes facing upwards. In late September or early October the larva will have finished making their cocoons. This is the best time to open the tubes for cocoon cleaning. Cleaning the cocoons helps ensure mites; debris and parasites are removed from the healthy larva.
How to Clean Mason Bee Cocoons:
- Open Tubes and remove cocoons
- Empty the cocoons into clean, cold water, the dead cocoons will sink to the bottom and can be disposed of.
- Very gently rub the cocoons between your fingers to remove debris.
- Remove the clean cocoons and ensure they dry very well on paper towel.
- Once they are dry, place them in an OPEN plastic bag and place inside a sealed container lined with a small amount of damp paper towel for humidity.
- Store bees in a refrigerator until spring and then repeat.