LEARN: 4. How to Raise Spring Mason Bees

Watching solitary bees fly is fun and rewarding

4.4 Wait & Watch Bees Fly

4.4 Wait & Watch Bees Fly

The best part of raising spring mason bees is watching them come and go from their bee house. The time you spend watching the bees is not considered a chore!

After you release your bee cocoons, it can take time for bees to return and show signs of nesting. Male bees emerge first and wait nearby for female bees. Female bees need to mate, get to know the area, and come back to claim a nesting hole. Give the bees at least two weeks to get settled.

As your bees emerge, you may see a beige substance that looks like splattered paint. This is meconium, the bee’s first elimination of waste (bee poop!).

After mating, the female will claim a nesting hole and use it as a shelter at night and during poor weather. Starting at the back, the female bee will build a pollen loaf made of pollen and nectar, lay an egg, and build a protective mud wall.

She will repeat these steps until she runs out of space and she’ll add an extra thick layer of mud, called a capped end, at the front end of the nesting hole. Depending on the weather, it can take several days for a small bee to fill and cap a single nesting hole.

Pro Tip: At night, use a flashlight to peek into the nesting holes. Look for bee faces (or bottoms) peering back at you. Female bees at the back of the nesting hole can be hard to see.

Remember to bee patient.

Many first-time mason bee raisers thought that their bees flew away, and are surprised a few days or weeks later by a mud capped end.

Bees are wild creatures and can decide to move on. For reasons unknown, the bees may nest elsewhere. Sometimes moving the bee house a few feet to a warmer or better location vastly improves nesting. If you chose to move the bee house during bee activity, move it at night to help any nesting female bees reorient to their surroundings in the morning. Strive to maintain a bee house location that faces the south or southeast for morning sun.

Leafcutter Bees Flying in Slow Motion, Carrying Leaves & Pollen

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How to Raise Mason Bees
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