You wanted to know about Mason Bees

Mason bees are considered a "native" bee to North America in general.  There is one exception of a mason bee that was introduced later called the japanese horn-face bee, which is now considered by many to be "naturalized".  Mason bees are in the Genus "Osmia".

From this point on, we will break up the discussion of mason bees into 3 areas; getting mason bees, having mason bees and keeping mason bees.

The differences are that;

"Getting mason bees" will discuss ways to buy, breed, catch and otherwise obtain mason bees.

"Having mason bees" will discuss what to do with mason bees and how to do it.

"Keeping mason bees " discusses what we can do to keep mason bees alive despite mites, diseases, pesticides, Winter and other issues mason bees face. 

A variety of methods and approaches from "naturalistic" to full fledged synthetic chemicals.
Getting Mason Bees

Two ways we know of to get mason bees:

  • Buy them in tubes. Roughly $15.00/tube with about 8 to 10 cocoons in each.
  • Set bait nests to attract them to nest within.
Place the mason bee tubes you purchase on the top or very near the front of the nest you have for them.  They will emerge and hopefully memorize and begin to nest in the block you set up for them.

You might open the tube and put the cocoons into a box with an entrance hole immediately near the nest block holes you made.  Thus allowing the bees to emerge from the box and begin nesting in the block holes that are right there.
Having Mason Bees

Mason bees are excellent random pollinators.  They come out early enough in most cases to pollinate spring fruit trees and other early blooming plants.

Mason bees are not honey producers like honey bees or bumble bees.  They do not collect and store "extras" for winter stores.  As such, they are not not the bee you want if you want honey.
Keeping Mason Bees

Mason bees are helped by beekeepers or conservationists after June by keeping the cocoons out of danger.

Naturally, the nests and cocoons that are left behind after the mason bees have died are exposed to parasites and predators such as pollen mites, birds and others that will destroy them, leaving fewer cocoons for the following Spring.

By having the nest holes lined with with butchers parchment paper or similar, the nests can be easily removed and placed in safe locations away from those pests to see more mason bees through to the next Spring.

Making sure there is a good source of clay-like mud around for females while they build their nests is another way we keep mason bees  with plenty of resources.

After removing the paper tubes from the nesting blocks after june or so, placing them in a box with breathing holes to allow air until Autumn is a big help.

Once Autumn comes in strong with temps consistently in the mid 30's, you can bring the tubes indoors to a refrigerator or cooler at those same mid 30's temps until the following March or early April when temps are about 45 to 50-ish range pretty consistently.