Building a Home for Orchard Mason Bees

What You'll Need
Wood stump (or 4x4-inch block of untreated wood)
Drill with a 5/16-inch drill bit
Soup can
Plastic drinking straws

Knowing Orchard Mason bees is the first step in knowing how to build them a habitat they can call home. There has been a rapid decline in the honeybee population in the United States and, as a result, vegetable crops that rely on pollination are failing to grow. Orchard Mason bees are far more productive than typical honeybees because they will pollinate 70 times more than honeybees, making them an ideal solution for gardeners. These bees are not aggressive--the males can't sting and the females only sting when provoked. These bees don't live in hives or nests like other bees. They can't make their own holes so they depend on their environment to provide for them.

In order to lure the Orchard Mason bees to your home you have to provide them with a proper nesting area. They live in holes no larger than 5/16-inch around and no more than 8-inches deep. The following steps will show you how to replicate a suitable home for them.

Step 1 - Choosing the Right Design for You

The Orchard Mason bee is known for being a fickle insect. There are three types of possible habitats you can try to use to lure them to your property. Each design has its pros and cons but, in the end, the final choice will depend on what materials you have at your disposal.

The following habitats are the three basic kinds preferred by Mason Orchard bees:

  • Deadwood Hole: This type of nest is perfect if you have a dead tree or stump in your backyard. This is the most natural of the three nest types you can make (and also the easiest).
  • Nesting Pole: Very easy to build, this nest type can either be in a long pole you place in the ground or in a block of wood. This is the second favorite of Mason Orchard bees.
  • Soup Can: This is completely unnatural which makes it not typically preferred by the Mason Orchard bees. Sometimes while the bees are out looking for a suitable nest they will take this alternative to wood. This habitat style is also great if you want to deploy several dozen in your backyard.

It is probablyt best to decide to build the nest while the bees hibernate--before they begin to come out of slumber in the spring when the daytime temperature reaches about around 50 degrees F.

Step 2 - Building the Habitat

For this how-to we will focus on the all-natural habitat consisting of a dead stump. If you lack a stump on your property you can buy one from a tree removal service or garden center.

Choose a stump and place it in a location that has direct access to the morning sun. It should be located at least 3 feet from the ground.

On the side that has the most sun, begin drilling holes that are, at most, 8 inches deep. Each hole can be 3/4 of an inch apart. Place as many holes in the stump as you can fit.