Hey friends! Things have been slowing down just a little bit from the frenzy. I’ve been wanting to revisit making some mason bee houses since we have all the flowers on the property coming out in phases – especially the blackberry bushes now in bloom. I built a mason bee tray house a while back (HERE).
My workshop isn’t set up yet with all the projects going on so I decided to use only what I had onhand as far as scrap material and supplies. So I went for it! I definitely wanted to use routed out trays so that I can harvest the cocoons and place them in the fridge until next Spring. But to also keep the mason bee houses clean each season to avoid pests and diseases.
So here’s what I came up with for three houses that I put in different places around the property. I’ll keep you posted on whether or not I have visitors. It is a little late in the season.
I mostly freehanded the routing with some help from a straight edge at times. I wasn’t too worried about getting perfect lines since nature isn’t perfect.
I used a 3/8″ round nose router bit at a depth of 5/16″. This is recommended quite often and hopefully it will prove successful.
When I was initially finished making the trays I realized I had enough to make two tray houses if I wanted to. I used a cut from the fence board planks to cap the tray groups. Zip ties were used to keep the tray bundles together and tight until harvest.
House #1 was completed with some remnant wood and pieces of cedar fence planks I had on hand. And capped with some metal flashing I had laying around. …Some bee push pins to dress it up a bit. Vintage door hinges were perfect for hanging and attaching on top and on the bottom.
House #2 is a mixture of routed trays and some cardboard tubes. I made paper liners for the tubes with parchment paper. I cut the parchment paper to about 7″ x 2.5″ rectangles and rolled them up around a pencil to push into cardboard tubes. Scissors were used to trim off any extra from the front. You’ll want to leave about 1/8″ to 1/4″ of paper liner tube sticking out in front so that you have something to grab to pull out the tubes at harvest time and also to clean out. I folded/pinched the back ends of each inserted parchment paper liner.
I used some new/old stock door trim/plinth pieces for the body of House #3. Some cardboard tubes finished it out with some board on top to keep them pressed down and in place.
I hope some of you will or already have built some mason bee houses or purchased some for your yard. They are amazing polinators that get more pollination done than most bees. Be sure to not use old wood that holes have been drilled into if possible. Over time, they are prone to contain and harbor diseases and pests which works against your success with mason bees and other similar bees like leaf cutter bees. Please use paper lined cardboard tubes (so they can be cleaned out) or trays that have been routed out. There are also many suppliers out there that can sell you these items to get you jump started on Etsy, Amazon or their own websites. Happy Pollinating!