Monthly Archives: January 2011

Note escape hole of box in foreground and the escape hole in the adjacent box.  Mason bee cocoons cover the base of the box waiting for warm spring temperatures. As the temperature increases, bees chew their way out of their cocoon and then travel towards the light of  the exit hole.  Note empty cocoons.  Dave uses a hinged lid for closing the box.

Female wasps overwintering in an escape box (emergence box).  If left inside box, wasps would eat bees as bees emerge from their cocoons.

Hi Margriet: Look what I had waiting for me when I went to clean out the escape boxes from last year.
Dave M.Port Alberni, BC Canada

Two feet long tunnel filled up to the 19 inch mark!
A long nesting tunnel  for a mason bee

 Hi Margriet, Well they have gone and done it again. You know that 8ft long escape box (emergence box or shelter), well I was cleaning it up for this season and noticed one of the escape runners looked plugged so I decided to take it apart to clean it. This is what I found. What do you think?  Dave  M. from Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
I have not seen this before, but I am not surprised.  As in your photos (see recent blogs), mason bees will nest in any type of ‘cavity’ (umbrella for example)!  Thank you for sending the photos.  Margriet

Peter B. from Ankara, Turkey emailed me the following question:

“Your fascinating website was sent to me by Chris K. I have looked at it plus several others.  I am a beginner, but would like to try raising some mason bees as a hobby.

I am from Vancouver, but living most of the last 10 years in Ankara, Turkey.  I would like to try manufacturing a house for mason bees here in Ankara.  A few quick questions for you:
1. Ankara is a big city (5,000,000) and at almost 1000 m elevation.  We are some distance away from the downtown, there are some large city parks near us, but we are still in the city.  Do you think there are any mason bees that we could attract here in Ankara?
2. I understand that the species is different for the mason bees here.  For the house, is 8 mm diameter OK, or do they require a larger or small diameter hole?  Is there anything else that would be much different from the North American mason bees in terms of housing or rearing requirements?
Thanks in advance,   Regards,  Peter B.”



Yes, the species found in Turkey are different to the ones found on the North American continent, although their lifecycles would be similar to the ones found in NA.  If the early spring mason bee exist in Turkey, it would be Osmia cornuta.  The 7.5 mm or 8mm would be a good hole diameter to use for your nests.

If you are interested in seeing what solitary bee species exist in the area, make 2 or 3 different nest diameters.  Local gardens with flowering plants would provide bees with pollen and nectar for themselves and their offspring.  The nesting hole diameter I would recommend are: 3mm 5mm and 7.5mm.  This gives you a good range of nesting tunnel sizes.   Make nests by routering flat pieces of wood.  These pieces are stacked and allow nests to be opened up in the fall.  This makes it all the more interesting than just seeing the plug at the end of the nesting tunnel.  Good luck, and let us know what you find.

A beautiful cherry tree in full bloom.  Something to look forward to!

 I have one of the yurts on this property.  The neighbours came over and asked the owner of the property what that funny blue structure was in his yard.  Not even the bees on the wall gave them a clue that this was our newest yurt!  The bees love it.  I love it.  No worries about wind or rain.  Lots of warmth inside the yurt to keep the larva warm during the day.

The Yurt was placed in a sunny spot away from trees or buildings that might throw a shadow on it.

Apple trees in full bloom with yurt in the centre of the picture, behind the trees.

The Eco-CORN Quicklock nesting trays produced by Beediverse Products provides housing not only for spring mason bees, but other insects as well.

We are not sure what the bee species is in this photograph, but  it shows the yellow pollen carried on the base of the bees’ abdomen.  This makes it a solitary bee in the Megachilidae family – the same family as the mason bee Osmia lignaria and the alfalfa leaf cutter bee, Megachilidae rotundata.  Gary G. from Sechelt, British Columbia, sent these photos to me for publishing on this blog.  They were taken on 15th July 2010.

The rough mud plugs are typical of the early spring mason bee.



A summer solitary bee species using a nesting tunnel of a LODGE with Corn Quicklock nesting trays  www.beediverse.com

 The big advantage in using Quicklock trays (as in this photo) is that they can be pulled apart and cleaned.  Cleaning nesting trays removes mites and other debris so that cleaned nests can be used each year. In these photos you can see that two pieces of nesting trays make up 6 nesting cavities/tunnels.  Each nesting tray neatly fits together to make 30 nesting holes.  The name of this house is the LODGE and is available from your garden store or on line at   www.Beediverse.com.

Note that no paper liners are necessary with this system.  The internal walls of the tunnels have a mat finish to counter the usual slippery finish of plastic material and these nesting trays are made from 80% CORN material making them more attractive to bees than straight plastic.

Especially in the wet west coast climate, avoid mold on the surface of cocoons (although this can be washed off with bleach water) by opening up nest early in the fall.  Late September is a good time to harvest cocoons and clean out your mason bee nests.