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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Dexter, Michigan
    Posts
    46

    Default Plastic-tube house for Mason bees?

    I bought one in January while skiing up north. Stopped into a bird store and there it was.

    Now that I've been reading around the forum, it seems the plastic tray design isn't the best to use.

    I watched Dave's video on drilling and inserting the paper tubes and I'll probably go that route instead.

    Some questions:

    1) should I not even bother putting the plastic tray house out?
    2) should I replace the plastic tray with wood blocks drilled and lined with paper?
    3) Do I 'need' to clean the tubes each year? I had thought I would get into mason bee keeping and just set the blocks and forget about the.

    Thanks,

    Will

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,083

    Default Re: Plastic-tube house for Mason bees?

    I'm new at this also. I just bought a snap together plastic one from territorial seeds. Its supposed to be easy to remove cocoons, & clean.
    I hung it out so we'll see how it goes.
    Dan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Columbia county, New York, USA
    Posts
    1,535

    Default Re: Plastic-tube house for Mason bees?

    Personally I think it's good to set out a variety of housing for solitary bees just to see which kinds they prefer in your area.
    After your first year you really should at least inspect a few tubes to see what kinds of problems you might be having in your location. Paper liners/tubes or take-apart trays will make that easier. One thing I do know is that all plastic tubes (like plastic drinking straws) don't breathe much and the bees don't like them as well as wood, paper, natural reeds,or cardboard housing tubes.

    You guys should be posting this in the forum for 'Alternative Pollinators":
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=265
    That's where we have all the discussions about mason bees and such....
    Try asking your questions there since some folks watch for mason bee threads there.
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Dexter, Michigan
    Posts
    46

    Default Re: Plastic-tube house for Mason bees?

    Thanks OMIE. I didn't even realize there was a Mason-specific forum.

    Mods? Can someone move this there please?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    White Rock, BC, Canada
    Posts
    30

    Default Re: Plastic-tube house for Mason bees?

    I've done a lit of research on this topic as well (check out the other threads here in the alternative section). At the end of he day all homes work, some just have more problems then others and it differs by region too.

    The plastic trays in particularly wet or humid areas run a hiher risk of mold. Bundled cardboard tubes can be penetrated by parasitic wasps. All tray systems allow pollen mites to crawl between the cracks potentially spreading and killing or weakening more bees. At the end of the day it's best to experiment and see what works best.

    While it may seem a little overboard and is a bit more work... My home this year is a custom built drilled holes into wood block with cardboard tubes and paper straws inserted. From what I can tell it should be a great solution to minimize problems. But only time will tell, I will also post pictures once complete.

    Welcome to mason bees, please report back how your homes work out

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: Plastic-tube house for Mason bees?

    Hi Renthorin

    1) should I not even bother putting the plastic tray house out?
    Sure. It's not the best system (and we all love to debate that) but it's still likely to work.


    2) should I replace the plastic tray with wood blocks drilled and lined with paper?
    If you are inclined to spend the money to do it this year, yes. That's a better system for a higher survival rate of healthier bees. If you have enough starter bees to put in two houses, then set out both systems and compare them.


    3) Do I 'need' to clean the tubes each year? I had thought I would get into mason bee keeping and just set the blocks and forget about them.
    Yes, you should definitely sort through them at the end of every year, and use clean tubes for next year. All mason bee homes get some degree of predator infestation--it's just a natural part of their existence. Opening up the tubes and sorting through them will allow you to easily remove most of them. This will allow you to grow your population faster and will reduce the predator population for everyone else's mason bees as well.

    Whether you need to wash, clean them, or disinfect them in some way is up for debate, but opening them up and prying out the healthy cocoons gets most of the job done. It amounts to a short afternoon project in the fall and is very easy to do. Using rolled paper tubes or pre-slit paper tubes makes it even easier.
    Last edited by Seattleite; 02-22-2011 at 09:37 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Woodinville, Washington
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Plastic-tube house for Mason bees?

    Great advice Seattleite.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Bucksport, Maine
    Posts
    177

    Default Re: Plastic-tube house for Mason bees?

    I know it's been a while since this was posted but here I go. Plastic is crap! Use it and see. It won't hurt a thing to put it up and if you get a mason bee that is dumb enough to use it then it is cool to look at. I put up two; one right next to a wooden block and may have killed a couple of bees that died laughing. The cool thing was when the wasps filled the tubes with dead spiders and stuff.
    WRT the leave alone method, it works for me! Now you can't just leave the blocks up year after year because you'll be breeding the nasties. But you can just pull the tubes and store them until spring. Put new parchment paper in block and that is it. No sorting, no cleaning, nothing to buy...just like in nature. If you change the parchment paper each season then you don't need to crawl around in the weeds looking for cuckoo poop; unless you want to. I get a few parasites but they are part of the ecosystem too! Nature is my babysitter.
    Dave - PM me if you are interested in natural beekeeping in Hancock County Maine.
    http://www.davesbees.com

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