Mason Bee Tubes

Asked May 7, 2016, 12:02 PM EDT

I have placed my Mason Bee houses in my apple trees, which consist of 4" pvc filled with tubes and liners. My question is whether I have to replace the liners through the summer as they become full, or does it take all summer to fill the liners which I'll remove to my fridge crisper in October, for protection until next spring? Thank you!

Kent County Michigan bee health

3 Responses

You may begin moving capped mason bee tubes in mid-late June. If you move them earlier than you will risk jostling eggs and young larvae from their pollen balls and they will starve. But don't move them to your crisper just then. Instead, move them to a protected area with similar ambient temperatures as the outside. Bags made of a breathable fine mesh like bridal tule or maybe even pantyhose will limit parasite infections. You can buy special made bags from some suppliers. When things cool down in the fall you may start moving them to your crisper. You may need to maintain moisture with a dish sponge nearby. You may replace the tube liners after you move them, but you will start catching leafcutter bees then, and other summer flying wasps and critters. They will move into any tubes you leave out there, even if you don't have liners in them and will occupy your tubes until next June. If you don't want other bees filling your spring-flying Mason bee's tubes, then bring everything inside in June.

Crown Bees has great information for every step of the process, and will send reminders about important procedures around when they need to be performed. I suggest signing up for their email list.

Well I have my tubes hanging in my apple trees which bloomed over a week ago, and yet no bees have shown interest in my tubes. They are hanging in the shade of the apple trees. Perhaps I should move them out into the open?

That may work. Many stem-nesters like to aggregate. It can help to place all of the tubes and nest structures in one place to maximize their likelihood of finding it and using it. If you know your birds, it would be similar to attracting Purple Martins. They nest as groups, instead of in individual nest boxes placed some distance away from each other.

Some some eastern and southern exposure may help.

You can also purchase cocoons of mason bees and leafcutter bees to jump start your nests. There are multiple sources for cocoons. Crown Bees and Bee Diverse are probably the best-supported suppliers right now. Most places are sold out of cocoons until November or so.

A bigger list here...