This article is used in collaboration with Crown Bees
A sturdy bee house or hotel mounted to a solid object (like a post, home, or fence) is the foundation for safe nesting habitat. Solitary bees and wasps prefer a house that protects from the wind, rain, and, if necessary, birds.
If needed, choose bird wire or hardwire cloth with 3/4" openings and loosely create a 2" bubble around the front of the house. Do not install the wire flush against the nesting materials because this can also prevent bees from accessing the nests.
Bees are cold-blooded and need the warmth of the morning sun to get started. Select a site that is south to southeast facing.
Install the bee house on a sturdy wall, fence, or post - bees do not like swinging in the breeze. Mason bees only fly about 300ft (100m), searching for nectar and pollen, so place the house near open blooms.
See Also: Mason Bee Beginners Guide
At eye level, about 5ft (1.5m) off the ground to protect the bees from small animals. Plus, these bees are fun to watch!
The bee house should provide a little spot for the cocoons to emerge and a 2-3” roof overhang to protect the nesting materials from the rain.
If you paint the bee house, allow plenty of time, about a month, for the paint to cure because the smell of wet paint may prevent bees from nesting.
Cavity-nesting solitary bees create nests in hollow or pithy stems, or in holes previously created by wood-boring insects. Many cavity- nesting species will also use artificial nesting materials such as cardboard tubes and nesting blocks or cut pieces of natural materials, such as phragmites or raspberry stems.
Nesting materials that are sealed at one end, breathable, and that can be opened are the best way to protect bees from pathogens such as excessive mold, chalkbrood, and pollen mites.
Different species use different diameter nesting cavities, so make sure to have the correct size if you desire a specific bee species. In general, spring mason bees prefer ≈ 8mm diameter cavities, while summer leafcutter bees prefer ≈ 6mm diameter cavities. Alternatively, place various sizes in your bee house to see what native cavity-nesting species live in your area!
Some nesting materials are harmful to bees and should be avoided! These include bamboo, plastic straws, drilled blocks of wood, and wire mesh with less than 1/2" openings.
We hope you find this guide helpful as you get started on your solitary bee-raising journey! We understand that solitary bee-raising can be both rewarding and challenging at the same time, but we are here to help.