Sunday, March 23, 2008

New Bee House (Orchard mason bees)

Yesterday a few Orchard Mason Bees(Osmia lignaria)were out flying around, and a couple looked like they were in need of new houses. The choice is to spend about 20 bucks for a new house, or use scraps and make one for free. So I used scraps and made one for free.

It's not rocket science. The best book that I have seen on the topic is "The Orchard Mason Bee" (clever title, huh?) by Brian L. Griffin. This book details their interesting life cycle, and ecological role, as well as rationale for promoting them (decreased viability of honey bees, so can't take fruit pollination for granted). Washington State University also has this site and the extension service has this site, about Orchard Mason Bees. North Carolina State has this site, for an East Coast perspective. This site has more information than I can digest so I'll mark it here to refer back to it.

The main issue is how big the holes need to be. The answer is 5/16th of an inch. Mine were made from 2 2X4 scraps nailed together to create a 4X4, then a little sloping roof added to keep rain from soaking into the wood. The roof is probably not needed since it's under the eaves, but not much trouble.

Here is the result.

Just finished

Date added, so that I know which ones are the oldest and need to be disposed of.

Next to an older bee nest.

I need to set out a dish with some mud for them. I better go out and do that now.


  1. I Live in southwest Missouri and will try making a couple of these for my garden area. Thanks for the informative blog.

  2. I love the quirky, organic way these look. I'm going to make one for my yard in Berkeley. Thanks for the instructions.

  3. Wow, thanks so much for this! I was thinking of buying a bee house, but now I can just make one. Great blog!