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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    6

    Default New to mason bees

    I've started 4 honeybee hives this spring and they are all doing very well so far but been reasearching the mason bee recently and was needing some guidance on starting out with this hobby.

    What all do I need to do to get started? I've read about the mason bee homes, etc but was curious how to get all this together from scratch. Where do start?

    I live in east Tn so are there certain species best suited for my region? Do I order my bees now and where from?

    Thanks. Any info would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Clay Count, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    819

    Default Re: New to mason bees

    Don't know anything about Mason Bees but always wanted to ask. Why have mason bees?
    Try living life with the attitude it's not about what you want to do but what you should do!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Bucksport, Maine
    Posts
    177

    Default Re: New to mason bees

    Too late for this season. Here is a video on building mason bee nest blocks.



    You should be able to start with no seed bees if you are near a wooded area. Here is a video with bees working.

    Dave - PM me if you are interested in natural beekeeping in Hancock County Maine.
    http://www.davesbees.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: New to mason bees

    Why have them?

    1) I think mason bees are fun hobby. If you are interested in bees and you like watching things grow over an entire seasonal lifecycle, then it's just plain interesting.

    2) Honeybees are in trouble, as we all know, and mason bees are excellent "backup" pollinators. They're native, they fly in colder temperatures (so they pollinate earlier than the honeybee) and they're very efficient pollinators. Boosting the native population of natural pollinators is a good thing for everybody.

    3) Easy to get started. You don't have to build a house, you can just buy a kit with (dormant) bees and call it done. If you like woodworking, even better--probably half of the activity that goes into keeping mason bees is choosing house design, so you have endless variation if you want to design and build your own.

    4) WAY cheaper than honeybees. You can buy a good-quality house and some starter bee cocoons next winter for less than half the cost of just a hive alone. There is no special equipment needed to manage mason bees---my entire toolkit consists of a flashlight to look at them at night, a screwdriver to scrape the tubes out in the fall, and a plastic container to keep them stored in the back of the fridge all winter. Seriously, that's it.

    5) Mason bees are great in agricultural settings and also perfectly suited to small spaces and city living, so they can be enjoyed in a wide range of conditions.

    6) Usually tolerated by spouses and interesting to younger kids.

    If you enjoyed that "watch the caterpillar turn into a butterfly" project in third grade, mason bees are right up your alley. :-)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Clay Count, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    819

    Default Re: New to mason bees

    Thanks for the reply Seattleite. I can see the value of them, especially if one is not wanting to get full into honeybees but want the benefit and joy of having bees.
    Try living life with the attitude it's not about what you want to do but what you should do!

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

    Default Re: New to mason bees

    Hi chemist20,

    To get started you need just two things: a house and some bees. Bees can only be bought when they are dormant in little cocoons and hibernating in cold weather...that's usually between October and February.

    Where do you buy them? Your best bet always is to buy bees as close to your location as you can...those bees will be the most perfectly adapted for your local conditions, you will be helping boost your local population, and buying native bees will give you the highest chance for success. Whatever you do, don't buy from a seller far away from you, like one on the west coast or in New England. Those bees are adapted to those climates, not Tennessee's.

    So where on earth do you find bees? Email or call people at these three types of places below, and tell them you're interested in learning where you might be able to talk with mason bee experts or get mason bee supplies for next year. Odds are the first person who answers the phone won't know, so be persistent.

    1) Local university agricultural extension offices --- for you that's the UT Extension office here: https://utextension.tennessee.edu/Pages/yardGarden.aspx.

    2) Local private nurseries and garden centers -- they often sell ladybugs, praying mantises, etc, and some have added mason bees to their seasonal mix. Find whoever knows the most about beneficial insects and see if they know any mason bee sellers. Often sellers will sell their bees directly to a garden center.

    3) Local horticulture societies or garden clubs--they might know speakers or suppliers. Orchard-related organizations are especially valuable, as mason bees are the best pollinators for fruit trees. Find individual hobbyists who have mason bees and ask them to sell you some.

    4) Lastly, some bee suppliers like Crown Bees in Washington state work with a national network of suppliers and could check to see if they know any near you--that way you'd still be getting local bees. It's worth checking with them in the fall. http://www.crownbees.com/

    These people probably won't know anything concrete about pricing or availability for next year yet--it's still way too early in the season for them to know what their inventory might be. But the thing you can do right now is gather a whole bunch of really good leads on potential bee sources. Come November, start calling all of them again and inquiring about ordering bees for Spring 2012. Definitely get your bee orders in by December, because places start selling out very quickly in late winter.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by Seattleite; 05-30-2011 at 01:59 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Columbia county, New York, USA
    Posts
    1,535

    Default Re: New to mason bees

    I've bought some nice wooden nest boxes from Dave at Davesbees.com - see his videos above.
    I've bought some 'can style' nesting containers with cardboardd tubes from Knox Cellars:
    http://www.knoxcellars.com/Merchant5...tegory_Code=SS (the bees seem to really like those cans)
    And I've bought some nice nesting tubes and also some healthy bee cocoons from Dave at crownbees.com as well. once i got my nesting sites up in early Spring they attracted solitary and mason bees from my neighborhood in addition to the few cocoons I actually bought. I have 3 times as many bees nesting on my porch boxes now as did last year.
    The little bees are so sweet and fun to watch, and they don't sting either!
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Olean,New York, USA
    Posts
    36

    Default Re: New to mason bees

    I just started honey bees and hornfaced mason bees this year. I purchased my mason bees and tubes from Crown Bees who was a true pleasure to deal with. Dave is prompt, helpful and sells good products. That being said the mason bees are very easy and really cute to watch. I believe it is too late to order bees from Dave this year but you could get prepared for next year. Dave can recommend the type bees for your area. Good luck.

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