Spring is here, so it’s the perfect time to set up a mason bee house. One of the most important things you can do is find the best mason bee house location. If you place your bee house in a location that is not suitable for bees, they may look for shelter elsewhere.
So, how do you find the best mason bee house location? It’s actually pretty easy. You must take the following into account: orientation, height, mounting, forage, and nesting material.
Why Raise Mason Bees?
If you have a garden, you can benefit from mason bees. They are amazing pollinators – 120 times more effective than honey bees. If you have a fruit or vegetable garden, mason bees will definitely increase your crop yield.
Mason bees are gentle, solitary bees. Unlike honey bees, mason bees rarely sting and do not produce any honey. They live alone and do all of the work themselves.
Watching mason bees fly to and from a bee house is really a great experience. It’s so fascinating to see them build their nests using mud, or in the case of leafcutter bees, leaves.
Raising mason bees is a fun and rewarding hobby. If you have kids, they especially enjoy watching mason bees do their work. It’s also an educational experience, as they can learn about how bees impact our ecosystem.
How to Find The Best Mason Bee House Location
It’s important to have the proper orientation for your bee house. Mason bees are cold blooded and cannot regulate their own temperature. They use the morning sun to warm themselves up in order to begin to fly.
For that reason, it is best to orient your mason bee house south to southeast facing so they get that morning sun exposure. Getting this sun exposure early also encourages them to get out and start foraging earlier in the day.
The best height for a mason bee house is at eye level, or even higher. In general you should mount your mason bee house 5 – 7 feet off the ground.
This height will help protect the bees from small animals. Not only that, it makes it a lot easier for you to observe them.
Your mason bee house should be mounted on a flat, sturdy surface, such as a wall, fence, or tree. Make sure that whatever you mount your bee house to does not get a lot of movement, such as swinging in the wind. Mason bees prefer their house to stay still.
It’s also best to place your bee house under some shelter, like the eaves of your house. This will provide them with some protection from heavy wind and rain.
Unlike honey bees who will fly 2 miles away from their hive to forage for food, mason bees will only travel about 300 feet away. That’s why if you want mason bees to stay in your bee house you need to have lots of flowering plants nearby.
Mason bees need a wide variety of flowers to gather pollen and nectar from. Choose native plants and plants that are suited for your particular zone. Avoid hybrid or double bloom flowers. While they look nice, they provide less pollen and nectar for the bees.
And lastly, choose flowers that bloom throughout the season. Ideally, you want flowers blooming from spring all the way into fall. This ensures that the bees will have access to lots of food, and therefore more offspring next year.
Some flowers that mason bees like are:
- Bee Balm
- White Clover
Mason bees use mud to construct their nests, so it is important that there is a mud source in close proximity to your bee house. Mason bees prefer to use wet, clay like mud when building their nests. You can make a mud source for them by digging a hole and spraying it with water.
If you do not have enough mud nearby, you can buy mason bee mud mix. It’s really inexpensive and it creates the perfect consistency of mud that mason bees love.
Leafcutter bees require leaves to make their nests. Some leaves they like to use are maple, roses, and lilac.
Raising mason bees is a fun hobby that can benefit any gardener. The best mason bee house location has the proper orientation, height, and mounting. Adequate forage and nesting material must be close by.