Get Started Buying Guide

Solitary Bee, Image by Lisa Fotios, Pexels

Hi! We’re so happy you’re interested in solitary bees. After all, they are the perfect pollinators for backyard gardens, farms, and orchards because they are gentle, easy to raise, and fun to watch. Not to mention, they are super cross-pollinators that can double or even triple your yields!

We know getting started can be a bit daunting at times, especially with the vast array of products and advice available. How do you know what to select and where to begin? How can you tell the difference between bee-safe nesting materials and practices from those that are poorly constructed and harmful to bees?

At Crown Bees, we are driven by research and community partnerships to ensure our bees and bee-raising products are bee-safe and sustainability-focused. We partner with beekeepers, researchers, universities, nonprofits, and government agencies to stay informed on the current challenges facing our managed and native bee populations and bring together the best practices for solving those challenges.

In this guide, we cover the fundamental questions about solitary bees and provide step-by-step guidance to help you become a successful bee raiser. The focus is kept simple on purpose; however, we’ve incorporated many links that will take you to more in-depth learning pages if you’d like to dive deeper into a specific topic.

We don't expect you to remember or search for this information throughout the's a lot of info! We love sharing our knowledge and helping our community of bee raisers be successful, so each month we spend time crafting our BeeMail with seasonal reminders and tips to help you along the way. Sign up today and never worry about when to do what with your solitary bees!

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Getting Started Buying Guide

A sturdy bee house or hotel mounted to a solid object (like a post, house, or fence) is the foundation for safe nesting habitat. Solitary bees and wasps prefer a house that provides protection from the wind, rain, and if necessary, birds. 

Mason bees only fly about 300ft (100m) in search of nectar and pollen, so place the house near open blooms.

Orientation: Bees are cold-blooded and need the warmth of the morning sun to get started. Select a site that is south to southeast facing.

Cocoon Protection: The bee house should provide a little spot for the cocoons to emerge and a roof that is 2-3” longer than the nesting holes to protect from the rain.

Bird Protection: If needed, choose bird wire or hardwire cloth with 3/4" openings and loosely create a 2" bubble around the front of the house. Do not install the wire flush against the nesting materials because this can also prevent bees from being able to access the nests, too.

Cavity-nesting solitary bees create nests in hollow or pithy stems, or in holes previously created by wood-boring insects. Many cavity-nesting species will also use man-made nesting materials such as cardboard tubes and nesting blocks, or cut pieces of natural materials, such as phragmites or raspberry stems.

Nesting materials that are sealed at one end, breathable, and that can be opened are the best way to protect bees from pathogens such as excessive mold, chalkbrood, and pollen mites. 

Different species use different diameter nesting holes, so make sure to have the correct size if you desire a specific species of bee. In general, spring mason bees prefer ≈ 8mm diameter holes, while summer leafcutter bees prefer ≈ 6mm diameter holes. Alternatively, place a variety of sizes in your bee house to see what native cavity-nesting species live in your area.

CAUTION: Some nesting materials are harmful to bees and should be avoided! Avoid using bamboo, plastic straws, and drilled wood blocks. Also avoid any wire mesh with less than a 1/2" opening against the nesting holes, as bees won't have enough space to fly and can damage their wings.

At Crown Bees we are proud to provide healthy spring mason bees and summer leafcutter bees, specific to your ecoregion, to give both you and the bees the best chance for success.

Or, create a safe nesting habitat for native cavity-nesting bee species that live in your area! 

Crown Bees offers additional accessories to help you successfully raise solitary bees. A few of our favorites include InvitaBee, Spring Mason Bee Mud Mix, Cocoon Comb, and Cocoon Hatchery Tube. See all of our accessories in the Crown Bees Store