My husband Jim made this mason been house this summer and it's really going to help more of the larvae survive because of the wire mesh around the outside. It will make it harder for the birds like flickers, other woodpeckers and starlings to get their beaks in far enough to reach the bees. We haven't had a lot of trouble with that, but some, so it's a nice added enhancement in any case.
This is just a prototype of the nesting box for the mason bees that Jim built. He made a few of them and took them over to our friends house to get 'populated' with new bees. He's mulling over whether or not he wants to spend the time making more and perhaps selling them. I think if he does decide to do that, he will need to invest in a drill press. Or so he said.
- One of the tips I would like to pass along to you is that you use regular fir or some other kind of non-aromatic wood. Do not use cedar. The mason bees don't like the aromatic wood and will not lay eggs in it. I believe the wood size used here was a 4" X 4", and the small roof overhang was just another piece of scrap fir.
- Also, you might notice that the inside of the holes for the larvae look red. My husband added plastic red straws to each opening because he thought it would be easier to clean and healthier for the them. It's not necessary though if you don't want to do that. After all, the bees have been laying their eggs in wood and other openings for years with great success.
- We have our bee houses hung on the east side of our house where they get the nice warm morning sun. Our house has a French hip roof design that creates a nice overhange of about 2 foot or more. The bees lay dormant all winter, and then when the spring sun begins to warm them up (about the time many flowers and shrubs are in bloom here, around May) they emerge and begin their quest to pollinate.
You're probably aware that honey bees are having colony collapse issues, so it's important to aid these other crop pollenators as much as we can. Remember, mason/orchard bees do not produce honey, so they don't sting to protect themselves or their honey. Mason bees are small black looking insects and will not harm you!