Mason Bee Update

Mason bees are natives. They are found all over the United States and are excellent pollinators. I’ve been raising them as a hobby for five years and have written about them in previous About Town issues and been interviewed about them by Ulster Publishing.

As I write this in February, I have no idea how my mason bees made out over this frigid winter. I won’t know until the end of March or early April. However, when they hatched last year, I was dismayed to find that many of them were infected with pollen mites. Turning to the internet for mite cures, I found there really aren’t any. The only thing to be done is cleaning the nesting holes, but that is not fool-proof as the mites are tough to dislodge.

mason beesPeople who raise mason bees for a living suggested disposable cardboard nesting tubes which I immediately ordered and placed next to the old nesting blocks I’d used for the previous four years. The bees preferred nesting in the cardboard tubes and filled up about 70 of them. If all hatch from the filled tubes I should have more than 350 bees hatching this Spring. Every year I have had an increase in the number of bees.

The old wooden nesting blocks also had quite a number of reused chambers, so I am hoping for at least 500 bees in total. This Spring as they finish hatching from the cardboard tubes I will replace the tubes with new ones, throwing away the old tubes in case they have been contaminated with mites. I will also retire the wooden nesting blocks.

In the Spring offerings from catalogue is a “Mason Bee Nesting Kit” (item 34451) that contains the cardboard tubes and a large cardboard holder. Seems a great way to start.

Mason bees do not sting unless aggressively handled. I sit within inches of them as the fly back and forth to nesting holes with pollen and mud (hence “mason” bees). I handle them often and have been accidently bumped by them, none have ever stung me.

I will write in the Summer issue as to the success of the cardboard tubes. If you can’t wait to find out, or want to know something else about them, feel free to call me at 691-2089 or go to