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My husband made a new nesting box for our expanding solitary/native/mason bee population. This box holds a total of approximately 450, six inch long nesting straws, in 6 big cans. I found that large pineapple juice cans are just the right size for the nesting straws- each can holds about 75 straws. This one box actually holds more nesting straws than all three of my previous nesting boxes from last year combined, yet it's much easier to maintain and clean.

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The chicken wire front keeps out woodpecker and squirrel predators. We can make a second identical box if need be, and hang it directly below this one. A second box may not be necessary this year. I anticipate that my immediate neighborhood would likely not support more mason bees than two of these boxes could possibly house- there is a limit to the local food/pollen supply after all. Honeybees can travel several miles for forage, but little solitary bees only forage a few hundred yards from their home base, thus their population is self-limiting based on the food supply in any given area.
In a few days I'll be putting the chilled dormant cocoons from last year out to emerge right next to this new nesting box. I'm just waiting until a few more flowers are blooming. It's a very early Spring here, but the fruit trees are still not flowering. Right now my 2011 cocoons containing new adult bees are still sleeping safely in my refrigerator veggie crisper drawer. It's almost time for emergence! A couple of days ago I was planting pea and spinach seed in my vegetable garden, and several male mason bees kept landing on my periwinkle blue skirt, apparently mistaking me for a giant morning glory. They were so sweet, but I felt a little sorry for them since not much is blooming yet. Obviously they were local wild bees who had emerged a bit early due to the unusually warm weather. It's quite possible that some of those bees will find this box and use it before my refrigerated bees are put out to emerge and mate. Some of the straws have paper liners that carry the scent of last year's nesting activities, and that's a powerful lure to any nearby mason bees looking for nesting sites.

I really look forward to seeing this new elegant box bustle with nesting bees!
 

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Hay Omie, I have a question.At a farm I lease mason bees like to plug up the ground holes in the electrical sockets.If I put a nesting box out for them do you think they would move in and leave the electric boxes alone?
 

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Will these work with bumblybees, I want to get them to stop boring holes in my house.
kebee
I think you are referring to big black carpenter bees, which will damage wood and houses.
Mason bees are completely different and tiny, will not damage wood or bore holes.
So your answer is no, your carpenter bees would not be interested in a nesting box like this one for mason bees.
 

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If they are boring into your house are they the same as carpenter bees?
Carpenter bees do damage the wood on houses. They are very large and usually black. The bees I am discussing here are tiny mason bees and have nothing to do with carpenter bees. mason bees do not damage wood.
 

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Hay Omie, I have a question.At a farm I lease mason bees like to plug up the ground holes in the electrical sockets.If I put a nesting box out for them do you think they would move in and leave the electric boxes alone?
They might! Why not give it a try? You can do a test nest box by taking a large wood block or a log and drilling various sized long holes in it, all less than an inch diam. See which holes they might like. Place the test nest where it will not be in the rain and wind, but will receive morning sun. Good luck!
 

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I made a box a couple years ago. Just nailed 3- 2X6's together then drilled holes in it for the bees. Never seen one! Did I do something wrong?
 

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Maybe they didn't like where you hung the box, or didn't like the hole diameters...could be various reasons.
 

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I get mason bee sized tubes from Crownbees.com a very helpful site with lots of how-to info!
I found they also like the 'summer bees' smaller sized brown cardboard tubes they sell as well.
 

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Omie, can you give the scientific name of the Mason bees?
 

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I am getting mostly two species this year- the eastern Blue Orchard mason (Osmia lignaria) and Hornfaced mason bees (Osmia cornifrons).

I have hoped for some leafcutter bees but just not happening where i am. Maybe I'll order some cocoons next year to experiment.
 

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My apologies for not responding sooner, Omie. I was away from home for a few days and only now got to check to literature on the Mason bees in Israel--we have two species of Osmia here: O. latreillei and O. wahrmani. I don't know which species i have in my garden, but every year, around this time, I see the leaves of several of my garden plants (in particular, my pomegranate trees) nibbled along their edges with circular discs being cut out.
P1030487.jpg P1030488.jpg
 

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