We know that bees are the super insects that we need to protect in order to save the human race. But what if you are allergic to bee stings? Or you’ve got kids that are frightened of bees?
Mason bees are your answer. You can still do your part to save the world by housing these non-stinging, gentle pollinators. They’ll happily move into a condo you can make yourself (see above for a stellar example). Of course, you can buy mason bee homes in a lot of places – including nurseries and online.
Mason bees like long tubes to move into. Commercial bee homes are made with tubes of bamboo – super pretty, and somewhat pricey. DIY homes are made by rolling paper tubes and filling an old coffee can with them. Then connect with twine (grooves on coffee cans are handy guides) or even duct tape. Add a simple pitched A-frame roof to keep out rain. Place near your flowers and you’ll have mason bee neighbors in no time.
Mason bees are interesting to watch. They do not make honey or live in a busy hive like honey bees who have one queen to lay eggs. Instead, mason bees are solitary and every one of the females is fertile. They make their nests in existing tubes that they find and fill it up with eggs before moving onto another tube. There are no worker bees.
Larvae live in the tubes on the food that the female has left for them and pupate in a cocoon (still in the tube) through the winter. Then the cycle begins again.
Remember to supply water for your bees. And enjoy the show!