There are two ways to acquire Mason bees for your bee house.
- You can supply an alluring environment and draw native species to your yard.
- Or you can purchase Mason bees from a supplier.
Attracting Mason Bees to Your Yard
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts you can attract Mason bees by providing a:
– Mason bee house with nesting tubes or trays.
– Providing nesting materials like clay based mud that is dampened often
– Native plant species that have a staggered bloom time within 300 ft of the bee house.
-Avoid planting hybrid plants
What Plants Should I Plant?
It’s important to provide native plants to your bees because these are the species that native bees best recognize. However, unless you’re a local botanists, it can be hard to identify what plants are native to your area while perusing around the local nursery. Ask nursery employees for help. They often have extensive knowledge about local flora and can help put together a nice assortment.
But if you’re shopping at a Super Center, or online with a seed catalogue, you might be on your own to navigate and identify native species. Here are some tips that can help.
I recommend gathering knowledge from a few different sources in order to compile a good assortment of native plants.
-Shop the perennial section. These are plants that come back year to year and will be your best bet for Native Species.
-Often in the perennial area, there are plants that are marked as good pollinators. In our local store they have a picture of a hummingbird to show it is a good choice for pollinators, and a butterfly to show that the flower is fragrant.
-Read the plant description tag and find out its bloom time. Remember you want staggered blooming.
Cross reference this knowledge with the following sources.
The Xerces Society will provide an extensive list of native plants for your region.
We live in Michigan so we would be a part of the Great Lakes Region, according to Xerces page. They recommend planting Butterfly Milkweed, Purple Giant Hyssop and Purple Prairie Clover.
Another great resource is:
Biota is defined as the animal and plant life of a particular region, habitat, or geological period. BONAP can provide and EXTENSIVE list of the species in your area. If you find a plant you’re interested in, check to see if it appears on the BONAP map/list for your area.
Attracting with Pheromones
Cocoon dust also has pheromones in it so you may attract bees better your second year. If you have a friend or neighbor who raises Mason bees, ask if you can trade some of their used tubes for the new ones in your kits.
Crown Bees in Seattle, Washington sells a product called The InvitaBee Plus for Mason Bees. It is an attractant for all mason bees in the Osmia species. It helps to attract mason bees to your bee house.
Here’s what the product description says:
We’ve teamed with the USDA to obtain the license for a wonderful patent that attracts all Osmia species, also known as mason bees. Scientific tests concluded that mason bees find nesting holes from scent pheromones and prefer to nest where other mason bees have nested. The attractant is delivered by spraying the InvitaBee contents onto the front of your nesting holes. Use of spray will not guarantee that your bees will stay put. The spray will, however, significantly help attract native mason bees to your nesting material through the stimulation of two powerful senses – sight and smell.
Natural lake bed reeds are a favorite nesting hole for mason bees. Situating these reeds in among your nesting tubes or next to your wood tray will also help to attract females looking for a place to call their own.
It’s an inexpensive product and I would think worth a try if you’re serious about attracting bees.
Purchase Mason Bees
Lastly, you can simply purchase cocoons online.
The can be ordered now for spring placement.
For additional information visit:
The Biota of North America Program http://bonap.net/napa
Ecological Landscape Alliance
Attract Mason Bees – No Protective Gear Needed by Judy Beaudette
How to Keep Solitary Bees https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGEpJ7F_ZuU
Crown Bees https://crownbees.com/
This post was not sponsored.