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Mason bee homes and nest types

Although round nesting holes are preferred by mason bee, they will use all kinds of shapes and sizes of holes, including these routered holes.  these nests are created by routering grooves in pieces of wood, which are stacked and thus creating the nesting holes.  colored markers to help mason bees find their nest can easily be done on wood.  some of the ‘unused’ nesting holes are actually used by the bees for their overnight stay.  for this reason it is always best to have more nesting holes then the number of female mason bees that are released.

Most of these Beediverse Quicklock corn nesting tunnels are plugged and filled with young developing mason bees.  Mud plugs are of varying colors indicating that different females use different sources of mudding material.  Three of the nesting holes remain unplugged and look empty although the lower open nesting hole on the lower left, contains a mason bees.  It is probably close to filling its nesting tunnel.  These nesting trays are of the newer ‘wood’ colors except the blue which gives the trays some color to help with the bees’ orientation.  Overall, this spring nesting was mostly successful.  In many cases, production looks like it will be more than the number of cocoons set out in the early spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Margriet, Finally, I am attaching photos, as promised some time ago, of the bee condo structure my husband and I designed and built at our community garden in False Creek, Vancouver, BC.

Since we put it up fairly late in the season, we were too late for any bees to take up residency, but we are planning on getting cocoons next spring to “kick start” the cycle.

I hope you enjoy the photos. Kind regards,  Monica

 

Hi Monica,

Thanks for the photos.  This is a good workable shelter for mason bees when there are no other structures around to attach your nests.    Others who work in community gardens might very well use this idea themselves.   I recommend taking the nest down until early spring when you set out your bee cocoons to avoid any winter mishaps.

 Frank wrote yesterday:

 Hi Margriet .. am forwarding an email (in mauve below) with images that I recently distributed to all the folks on my “Bee Team” concerning woodpecker damage on Galiano Island.  I think you will find them interesting.  
 
 Do you get many reports of this sort of thing, or do you have such problems with your own nesting boxes?
I hope the summer has gone well for you,
Cheers,   Frank
 
 
 
Subject: Woodpecker damage on Galiano Island
 
Hi Everyone ..  in response to my earlier email about the possibility of woodpecker damage to our nesting boxes, Paul brought two of his boxes to me from Galiano Island, where they had been thoroughly pillaged by woodpeckers.
 
One puzzling thing is that we have flickers and downies in our garden all year round, but never have any of them shown any interest in the nesting boxes.  And the site on Galiano where the damage was done has escaped predation for years. 
 
Anyway, that’s just one more element of mystery surrounding the life of our bees.
 
I’ve attached four images, one overall image of each of the two nesting boxes, and one detail of the worst damage on each one.  It looks as if the woodpecker(s) managed to clean out the front end of every gallery, even those where it(they) did not enlarge the opening i.e. there is not a single gallery left with chambers right up to the front entrance.  As far as I can tell, the first two or perhaps three chambers are gone, particularly in the enlarged openings.
 
Just how much damage has been done won’t be evident until we open them up in November.
 
It’s a jungle out there!
 
Cheers,
 
f.
 
By the way, if you are wondering what the markings are on the fronts of the nesting box trays, there is some evidence that decorating them in some way makes it a little easier for the females to find the galleries they are working on.  It’s not uncommon to see a female come back to the nesting box from a pollen-gathering or mud-gathering trip and enter a gallery, only to pop out immediately and go to a different one. Sometimes it takes more than two tries before she lands where she wants to be”
 
Hi Frank- these are good examples of wood pecker damage :)   and yes I receive these type  of reports nearly every year.
I think you are lucky a pileated woodpecker has not found these nests.  These giants can demolish whole mason bee homes.
 
From the look of the hole- depth, this woodpecker is likely to be the hairy or downy woodpecker.   You mentioned that they have not been predated on before.  this might be because of food availability.  Early in the spring, I have seen damage from bears, where they actually lick out the pollen lumps!  You would not think it would be worth it, but food must have been scarce at the time.
 
One easy way of protecting the nest from wood peckers is the hang them facing inwards- in July when flight has ceased.  Or you can protect them  with a predator guard.   Be aware that the predator guard has to be a good inch away from the face of the nesting tunnel.  Wire screen is NOT too successful.  I think  wire is usually too thin for the bee to see the wire when they come barreling in towards the nest.
 
If my nests are not protected in some way, woody woodpeckers are sure to find them here at home.
 
Oh by the way- I think the nests are still good to use- and the trimmings will assist bees to orient towards their nesting tunnels.  I would sand these rough chipped holes though.
 
 Margriet
 
reply from Frank:

Thanks for the suggestions of turning the boxes around or using predator guards.  Dick S. was very faithful about turning his boxes around each season, I know.  And I’ll pass along your comment about reusing the damaged trays.  You’re quite right that except for the one that was enlarged to the size of a loonie, they just look like someone had taken a countersink bit to them  I think that bird (or those birds) worked awfully hard for what they got!
 
I’ll let you know what we find when we open them up in November.
 
 

Hi
‘Original’
I’ve had a problem with bees released returning to my nest tubes. Attached are two photos of my boxes. I released about 20 in the setup named “original” and only one bee nested there. I’m going to try the setup named “latest” and was wondering if you think either or both should work? Thanks Norman Z



‘Latest’



Hi Norman,  These are beautifuly constructed homes for mason bees.  Both should work.  At some locations there are lots of nesting places for mason bees such as cedar shingles and often mason bees use these over the ones we set up.  The only way that I know to get them to use your nests is over a year or two, increase the number of mason bees that are produced.  I noticed that the ‘Latest’ home is set on a post.  This works fine, but in cool springs, this location would be a lot colder than a site like on a wall and be a lot less attractive than the home on a warm East facing wall.   All these facts make an impact on successful nesting of mason bees.  Sometimes it is difficult to figure out why the population is not building up and it could be as simple as a few bird predators.  Try different locations and homes and slowly build up their numbers.-Margriet



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