I found out that a co-worker of mine had mason bees. I didn’t know what that meant but I needed to find out. So of course, I turned to google. And what did I find? A zillion images of the cutest little hunks of wood. I needed to know more so I approached him. He gave me the low down on what he did and I searched around the internet for more information. Mason bees are solitary, unlike a honey or bumble bee, and they don’t produce any honey or wax. But they are great for pollinating gardens and rarely sting.
It looked simple enough. A piece of wood to drill holes in for the bees to lay their eggs. And I mean really, who wouldn’t want an adorable little house, perched near their garden, to attract these awesome little pollinators? I had decided to use a log, turned on it’s side, to create my bee home. Fortunately, there is no shortage of logs laying around the yard.
The job was not going to cost a lot but was going to require tools. So I called up the handiest guy I know and asked if he’d like to help. My dad agreed to give me a hand. I packed up my log, grabbed some wood from the lumber yard and headed over to my folks place.
Now I read that the mason bees don’t like the wet so I wanted to put a little roof on the log. We hummed and hawed on how to accomplish this and decided to cut the 1″ x 6″ piece of wood to fit around it, chopping angles to attach the roof.
We did the same with the back. It was a little trickier to figure this one out but between the two of us and the use of a compass drawing tool we got the line pretty close.
We needed the holes to be 6″ deep. The female mason bees lay the female eggs near the back of the holes and the males near the front, as the males will hatch first. We used a 3/8″ drill, masked off at 6″. I jotted some dots onto the log and dad started drilling. There was a lot of in and out and smoke but he got the job done.
After all the holes were finished we had to nail on the roof mounts. We didn’t want the wood to split so dad pre-drilled holes before nailing them on.
Then came the task of putting the roof on. My dad had some pieces of wood siding kicking around so we cut them to length and nailed them on.
And there it was! A mason bee house. Except!!! I wasn’t satisfied. The crack in the center of the roof was going to drive me bonkers. Water would seep in… I just didn’t like it.
When I brought it up to my dad he thought he may have a solution. A piece of galvanized tin roof. Off he went hunting for it and came back with it in hand. This was the cherry on top. My mason bee house was about to be perfect. We cut, straightened and glued the tin to the house.
When I got home with the bee house, I went inside, and measured and cut some parchment paper. Then I rolled the paper around a pencil to make tubes to slide into the holes we drilled. I did this so that come next spring, before the babies hatch, I can pull the tubes out and clean the cocoons off. I’ve been told that mites get into them so it’s a good idea to get them off. But I am also just really excited to see whats going on inside!
Then I moved it outside! I will have to post later about how it all turns out. Hopefully the house fills up and I’ll have an increase in pollinators for the garden. Fingers crossed! But for now it sure looks cute!