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Mason bees?

PyraPyra Central Scotland Posts: 139
So after reading that most bee houses are deathtraps for bees, I've been looking for ones that aren't. 
Has anyone heard of mason bees?
https://www.masonbees.co.uk/ 

Are their houses any good? They seem cleaner, which I did always wonder about with bee houses. Has anyone used them?
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  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,520
    Never used them, but I leave old hollow plant stems around the garden, tucked in behind shrubs or near the house wall for anything which needs to overwinter etc. 

    I have a nice colony of white tailed bees nesting just now in the hedgehog house though  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • FireFire LondonPosts: 7,699
    edited June 2020
    If you can, I would certainly go for Schwegler. I have full occupancy this year, where four other types are have not much.





  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 917
    edited June 2020
    Fire said:
    If you can, I would certainly go for Schwegler. I have full occupancy this year, where four other types are have not much.





    Not heard of Schwegler, but they look good. Are yours occupied by bees, or other insects? Would differing sized holes in a log create the same effect as yours?
  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 917
    edited June 2020
    pyra88 said:
    So after reading that most bee houses are deathtraps for bees...
    Can you explain more please? I'm interested in why they might be death traps as I want to site some bee houses in my garden.

    Edit - from reading online it seems the biggest killer to the occupied larvae is the nesting tube getting wet with winter rain, best to remove the occupied nest over winter and place somewhere cold but dry, such as under a car port, then re-site before March/April when the larvae emerge...

    I'm afraid that many of the elaborate 'insect habitat hotels' illustrated in gardening programmes on TV, in magazines and at gardening shows are ornamental rather than functional, designed to appeal to human aesthetics more than being actually beneficial to solitary bees. Unless they incorporate serious shelter from winter wet including a robust roof, the wood will become saturated and the structure will not be suitable for over-wintering insects such as solitary bees. Roofing an insect hotel with damp turves is not good enough.
  • Anna33Anna33 Posts: 169
    My problem with bee/insect hotels has always been spiders moving in. It seems that within days/weeks of a hotel going up, it's covered in spider webs, and mine have never been used despite having a garden full of an assortment of bees. I've given up using them, and assume that bees have enough nous to find a nesting site themselves.

    The Schwegler nest looks like it might avoid the spider issue, though, not having any overhang or nooks for spiders to set up home in. I might be tempted to try again.

    Finally, not mason bees, but leafcutter bees - I was lucky enough to see one nesting in a gap in the render of our house the other day! She made several trips to the nesting site throughout the day, sometimes carrying bits of leaf, other times not. It was right by the window where I work, providing a welcome distraction.
  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 5,627
    Don't necessarily believe the hype about 'death trap' bee hotels that's being spun by people who sell bee hotels. Having said that I've seen some terrible hotels being sold and the Schwegler ones are proving themselves to be well designed and constructed and much more popular with the bees.

    Dave Goulson's book 'The Garden Jungle' has some excellent info on bee hotels and the pros and cons. His (very educated) opinion is that something is better than nothing and bee mites etc are just as much a part of nature as bees.  It's also just a really good, informative and inspirational book for all gardeners to read.



  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 5,627
    Mine aren't wood and they cost a lot less than that thanks to a very lucky find on Ebay. I've replaced the reeds with bamboo on the other one but the reeds are also very popular. The advantage of this type is the woodcrete regulates the temperature and moisture much better than a block of cheap pine and the bee brick doesn't have splits for pests to hide in or splinters to damage bee wings. The bees seem to be able to clean the cavities out themselves very easily too which is a hidden bonus.

  • FireFire LondonPosts: 7,699
    Treeface said:
    Why pay £37 for a Schwegler when you can just drill holes in a bit of wood yourself?

    because it doesn't work as well. I have been drilling holes in logs and the profesionally designed blocks are very much more used - preferred by bees. I'm experimenting with various drilled holes sizes to see if it makes a difference to occupany levels. Bamboo sees to attract almost no bees, though I would interested to know if others have visible signs of egg laying in bamboo tubes. I suspect most bamboo tubes are too wide.

    In answer to the question about spiders, by nest boxes are under shed eaves and naturally spidery places, so I have to brush away spiders' webs every few days
  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 917
    edited June 2020
    Treeface said:
    Why pay £37 for a Schwegler when you can just drill holes in a bit of wood yourself?
    Inspection tubes for a start..



  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 917
    Some useful information here..

    https://www.foxleas.com/make-a-bee-hotel.asp
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