Mason Bee Care
We hear a common argument or question about raising hole-nesting bees: In nature, these bees nest in holes in wood, why don’t I just leave them alone?
The nesting holes we are providing for bees in our bee hotels and bee houses are really different than the nesting holes found in nature. We can't build a completely natural situation for our hole-nesting bees, who are wild creatures after all, so we need to learn to maintain our man-made houses for managed wild bees.
Last winter I was looking into the possibility of starting a bee hive as a tool to pollinate my organic kitchen garden, when I was made aware of solitary bees and the role they play as the great pollinators of North America. Without the need for expensive equipment such as hives, protective clothing, honey-related appurtenances and the time commitment necessary to keep honey bees, providing a habitat for solitary bees seemed like an easier, less expensive and less time consuming alternative.
Mason bees are wonderful additions to extension service programs. The programs can evaluate the efficiency of mason bees, learn and teach about mason bee life cycles, and make recommendations to farmers and gardeners about the ability of mason bees to pollinate in their region. Mason bees and honey bees can work together in farms and mason bees have been shown to actually improve the pollination behavior of honey bees.