A number of the DIY beer can-based mason bee hives were “installed” this week at various locations on an island in Howe Sound. During a visit last summer, I noticed mason bees coming and going behind cedar shingles on a cabin, and saw them in abundance in a friend’s fruit orchard, so I figured it would be interesting to see if they would take advantage of my low budget mason bee houses.
While this past week has been quite warm between 11am and 2pm, outside those windows it remains uncomfortably cold. As such I saw VERY little bee activity. This may be due in part to the only flowers observed being daffodils, rosemary (introduced) and skunk cabbage (do bees even like skunk cabbage?).
In terms of pollinators, we observed various types of bee flies, bumblebees, honeybees, a single wasp and a pair of mason bees mating in the middle of the road. That single pair suggests the masses are just around the corner, so hopefully the needed flowers hurry up and bloom. Presently there are barely buds on many of the needed trees.
The mason bee(r) houses were placed in several locations across 2 properties on the island. One on the water, and one inland. In both cases the bee houses face south / east and are angled slightly downward to reduce the likelihood of water ingress and pooling. Hopefully our next visit will find hundreds of tubes capped with mud and ready for eventual cleaning.
This one is a bit of a do it yourself mason bee house experiment. I’m going 100% DIY this year after seeing my store-bought houses disintegrate over the winter while last year’s milk carton-based creations look as good as new (and will only require a quick wipe-down with dilute bleach solution before I reuse them this year). Last week I posted a few examples of the house styles I was playing around with, and since then I’m up to 20 individual bee homes of various shapes and sizes.
This post is about an experiment for this year. I went looking for chicken wire this afternoon to fashion a guard at the entrance of each house and was unable to find any at all. It seems toilet paper isn’t the only item sold-out in these days of coronavirus stockpiling, though I struggle to think what the chicken wire is for. When I got home I realized that several of my native bee homes use beer cans for the main housing, with the tops cut off. Given a beer can has a small (too small for most birds to pass through) hole, I thought maybe they could be reattached to the base once the various tubes were packed in, creating a bee home protected from both rain, birds and squirrels alike.
I give you, the Mason Bee(r) House TM
I’m sure there are some issues with this approach… like moisture entering as mist with no easy way to exit given the can walls aren’t permeable… or maybe excessive heating depending where it’s placed, and I’d love to hear them, but I’m definitely going to give these a shot.
I would sell plans laid out in exhaustive detail, but as you’ll see in the photo there was little in the way of planning, and the details are the furthest thing from exhaustive.