Mason bee houses are quick and easy to build. Here's how:
1. Gather Supplies. You'll need a mug, a pair of scissors, and many straws.
Try to find a mug like the one on the right, with a flat bottom. The one on the left will work, but you may find it more difficult to use.
What type of straws to use is up for debate. Click here to help you decide what to pick. We like to use paper smoothie straws, with smaller paper ones to fill in gaps.
2. The straws will serve as nesting tubes for the bees. Measure a straw to the length of your mug. Measuring slightly below the mug is best. This will help to protect the bees from the weather.
4. Cut the straw, and use it as a reference point for cutting your other straws. Cut enough to fill the entire mug tightly.
5. Pack the straws into the mug, until no more will fit. You will know you've put enough straws in once you can turn your mug upside down without anything falling out.
6. You're all done! Make a label if you'd like, and place it outside. Try to find a place close to lots of flowering plants that isn't too exposed to the weather, and secure it at an angle that won't let rain flow into it. Mount it facing SE, so the sun can warm the bees to flying temperatures, about 1-6 ft above ground.
Now, all you have to do is wait for your fuzzy friends to move in! They'll lay their eggs inside the straws and seal them with a protective layer of mud.
If you're serious about growing your mason bee population, you can take some extra steps to take care of them. In the late summer or early fall, you'll gently remove the cocoons, clean them, and store them in a safe place throughout the winter.
Follow this tutorial to clean your cocoons:
In the early spring, you'll tuck the cocoons into new nesting tubes and wait for your bees to emerge! They're quite docile, so you can watch them up close without fear of getting stung.