Garden and Orchard - The Green Homestead

Attract Pollinators with a Mason Bee House

mason bee house
mason bee house
Mason Bee House.

Attracting Pollinators with a Mason Bee House

Do you want to attract native pollinators to your garden and landscaping? There are plenty of ways to increase habitat and food sources for our native pollinators, such as mason bees. Adding native plants and other sources of nectar is a great way to attract pollinators to your yard. Once you have native bees and other pollinators coming for an all-you-can-eat buffet, you’ll want to increase the chances that they’ll stick around and start a new generation in your area. Hanging a mason bee house is a simple and effective way to attract this natural pollinator to your garden.

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You can purchase the same type of mason bee house that I have (pictured above) here. (#AD)

Bee pollinating cosmos
Provide sources of nectar to attract pollinators to your garden.

The Power of Pollination

One of the reasons people keep bees is for their pollination abilities. Oh, sure, honey is probably the sweetest deal bees offer, but one should not underestimate the power of pollination! Without pollinators, many of our garden treasures would not produce any food unless we hand-pollinate their flowers. That would be a very time-consuming process in a large garden. With honeybee populations in decline, we need to start looking at alternative pollinators to help keep our gardens and orchards productive…enter the Mason bee! (Note: We also need to start protecting our honeybees!)

Check out the wonderful selection of pollinator-friendly seeds available from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds. (#ad)

bee and insect 'hotel' for overwintering

A Different Kind of Bee House

Mason bees don’t produce a crop of honey for us to pilfer for our larders every summer, but they do offer free pollination services. All you need to do is provide a safe home for them to raise their young and they are happy to visit your fruit and veggie flowers, spreading pollen as they go. You can attract them to your yard with plantings of fruits, vegetables, and flowers that provide nectar for the bees. They will also appreciate a mason bee house created from a wood block with holes drilled in it or a collection of bamboo sticks.

If you are interested in a similar home for Mason bees, you can either purchase one or build one with a block of wood and a drill. Use an untreated wood block at least 4 inches deep. Drill several holes 5/16th of an inch wide and 3 to 5 inches deep. The best time to hang your Mason bee house is in March when they will be looking for a nesting spot.

Photo source

More About Mason Bees

Mason bees are solitary insects so they don’t gather in a colony or hive. The male can’t sting and the females rarely sting, so they are better than honey bees for pollination if you are allergic to bee stings. But play it safe and keep your EpiPen handy.

Don’t use insecticides or other chemicals around your Mason bee house, or in your garden. Even organic insecticides can kill bees and then they can’t pollinate your garden. Avoid purchasing plant starts that haven’t been raised organically; they may be treated with neonicotinoids, one of the culprits behind colony collapse disorder in honeybee populations. Plant plenty of pollen and nectar-producing flowers in your garden to feed your bees all season long. They will repay you will increased yields of vegetables and fruits. What’s not to love about that?!

Do you have a Mason bee house? Or do you keep honeybees? What other pollinators do you try to attract to your garden?

18 Comments on “Attract Pollinators with a Mason Bee House

  1. Hi Bunkie,
    I read that you should hang the house in March when the bees are nesting. Also, you might have had different species than the Mason bees. I hope you have Mason bees moving into your new houses!

  2. I’m also a wannabe bee keeper. I’m taking classes now. The plan is to start spring 2016 because I have a sabbatical next year and will be away from home. However, initial costs would be much higher here. Your mason bee house is lovely. Haven’t hung up mine yet …

  3. Just ordered a bee house. It’s the beginning of June, so I’m not sure what to expect, but it’s reasonably priced, so I did it while it was on my mind! Thanks!

  4. We have mason bees on our future homestead – love them! To Bunkie – the bees only use the tube to put their eggs into sometime in the fall and the babies hatch out in the spring – first males, who hang around and wait for the females to hatch. So, don’t dispair. If you house them, they will come! These are fascinating and very helpful bees. Thanks for the post, Lisa Lynn.

  5. We put up two mason bee houses this spring when the fruit trees started blossoming and were full of bees. They seemed to just ignore the houses???!

    1. Hi Bunkie,
      You might have had different species of bees visiting your fruit trees. Also, I read that March is the best time to put up the houses. I hope you get bees moving in soon!

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