Do you have a neighbor who seems to have built their house with their bare hands, isn’t keen on the monthly neighborhood barbecue, and probably hasn’t been to the state line?
They could be the human embodiment of a mason bee. These cousins of the honey bee prefer to be a one bee army.
They lay their eggs and feed them in a very efficient way. They have no need for honey because they only need to live long enough to reproduce and set up a ‘nutrition’ fund for their offspring.
They do this by creating little compartments in tube-like structures and each section has a pollen pellet, an egg and a mud wall for protection.
This ingenious creation and placement ensure that when the egg hatches, all the nutritional needs it has can be satisfied.
This compilation style post will explore some of the most highly rated and best mason bee houses that they will love to call home.
So Why Should You Care About Mason Bees?
Unlike their honey-producing counterparts, several species of mason bees are native to the U.S.
That makes them ideal for the ecosystem because they have figured out how best to work with the flora that we’ve got.
Since they do not live in a colony, their needs for care are very few, and the benefits we get from them are great.
Mason bees are fantastic pollinators. There are trees whose flowers have less sugar in their nectar than the honey bees find ideal.
As a result, when faced with options, the honey bees will happily bypass such blossoms, such as those on pear trees.
And yet, we still get pears when the season comes around. That’s because other bee species have taken a liking to such plants and keep our cravings satisfied.
Even though the claim that every third bite you eat was made possible by a bee is still yet to be proven, there’s no doubt that there are trees and plants that heavily rely on cross-pollinators.
So if you have a garden and you keep it chemical free, attracting mason bees should become a priority for you.
Unlike honey bees, mason bees don’t travel far to forage, so if you can provide a good source of nectar and pollen in your garden, they will remain loyal residents.
What’s Hot in Mason Bee Real Estate?
The dream is to find a tube that it can call its own. I’ve even read about them making homes out of the wheels of plastic garbage cans. Some species find a space that works and build a clay wall cylinder and move in.
All they are looking for is a space that they can move into. Unlike a carpenter bee, they won’t drill any holes so they are not destructive. They are masons, so they build.
They’ve taken a fancy to cylindrical holes that offer shelter from the elements. A little cover from the rain is what they ask for. They tend to favor a tight fit and have been known to move into abandoned brood comb in an empty hive.
It is best to present them with a variety of cylindrical sizes and see which ones they prefer. It’s better than having identical tubes that they don’t appreciate. Besides, nature isn’t symmetrical.
Once they’ve found the best structure to renovate to their liking, they need to make sure the location is ideal. They need building material, which is usually mud or resin.
They also need to feed themselves and pack some for the offspring. The nectar is for the adults, the pollen for the emerging larvae.
They also need to be warm enough to work. Therefore the location of their habitat should receive maximum morning light to give them a good start to the day.
Once you can provide these conditions, you and the mason bee shall become very good friends.
8 of the Best Mason Bee Houses
8. Gardeners Supply Company Mason Bee House
This mason beehive is a simple teardrop-shaped structure made from bamboo that includes several tubes for the mason bees to lay their eggs (and head) in. The tubes are made out of bamboo, which is known for its durability.
The tubes come in different sizes so it’s possible to attract more than just one species of solitary bee. That’s good for the pollination of your garden and offers a home to other helpful insects.
The potential downside to this is that unlike other varieties, it does not have a protruding roof that keeps the rain water at bay. This is easily remedied by nailing a board above it.
You may need to add a few more tubes in to keep them stationary and keep the little cylinders from falling out.
7. Niteangel Natural Insect Hotel Bee Bug House
Just like human hotels, this mason bee house was designed to appeal to a mix of different insects. It’s made from natural materials making it safe for your six-legged guests and offers different sized tubes to appeal to different species of bees, thereby increasing your pollination power.
It is pretty small so it’s ideal for the little garden you have going in your back yard. Last but not least, it is so beautiful you may take a picture of it, frame it and place it above the mantelpiece. The design keeps it dry in the rain and if you set it up in time, you can have occupants within days.
6. Wildlife World Interactive Mason Bee Management System House
This wooden house for mason bees is wonderfully unique. It’s like a multi-storied house that has prefabricated layers and simply assembled on site, with one section on top of the other. This makes it easier to inspect and clean.
Harvesting cocoons is quite simple with this design. It’s pretty easy to take apart. Its shape makes it possible to place on a stand if you choose not to mount it against your house or a tree. The holes appear to be the same size so you might not have much diversity, but you’ll definitely get your masons.
5. Kinsman Giant Solitary Bee Nester
5. Handmade Natural Bamboo Mason Bee House
This mason bee house might be my favorite one yet. Aesthetically, it doesn’t have much to offer, but it is built with the mason bee as the key customer.
The outer cylinder is almost cone-shaped, with the back having a smaller diameter than the front. That helps to keep the tubes in place successfully.
You would have to pry a tube out with tweezers. The manufacturer has a video on their website that explains how to mount the nester.
Even though the tubes are tightly fit, they are removable so it makes it easier to clean them out and avoid the spread of diseases and pests such as mites.
4. The Bees Waggle Mason Bee House for Solitary Bees
The folks at bee waggle have really outdone themselves with this great package.
Not only have they provided the housing unit for the bees, but they’ve made it very simple to watch the magic happen while the bee goes about its business.
The viewing window accords you a front row seat to the housekeeping skills of the mason bee. If that wasn’t enough, they provide bee food in the form of wildflower seeds for you to grow.
This is important because mason bees forage from plants near the hive, unlike their cousins who can travel for over 2 miles in every direction.
It is a small house, that can house less than a dozen bees but with the viewing window and flower seeds, it is definitely worth it. It would make for a great gift for a loved one who loves gardening.
3. Bamboo Tube Mason Bee House (House Pink) by Cestari Kitchen
What a dainty little structure. Function and structure rarely come together as beautifully as they do in this little pink mason bee house.
The roof extends over the entrances of the tubes by almost two inches which will definitely keep the masons dry during wet weather.
It’s fascinating to watch them sit at the entrance looking out, waiting for a wet spell to pass. You can almost hear them sing the ‘rain rain go away’ song.
The tubes vary in size so you are likely to attract different types of solitary bees. What amazes me about these creatures is they don’t move into the tube that you’d expect. Sometimes they go for the tighter fit.
It’s a great learning tool for you or your children, and the vibrant color would liven up your garden for sure. It also makes for a great gift for any nature lover.
2. Welliver Outdoor Standard Mason Bee House
Success stories of this mason house are numerous. It’s small but sturdy.
To mount it, you would have to get out your toolbox and get it to sit on a bracket on a wall. Alternatively, you could set it up to sit like a mailbox on a stand.
The wood is a little heavier than you’d expect so it is likely to stay put wherever you set it up. If you put it up in the early spring, you’re likely to get bees moving in almost immediately.
The tubes are all the same diameter and are made of paper, which the bees seem to love. Perhaps it reminds them of the reeds they would usually move into in the wild.
Once again, the entrance to the tubes is sheltered against rain, but you will need to consider a location that protects it from strong gusts of wind whilst being exposed to maximum morning sunlight.
The structure is very well built and no doubt the mason’s are likely to appreciate it.
1. Armstrong and Blackbury Solitary Mason Pollen Bee House
I’m not sure why I’m so partial to these cylindrical designs, but this is another one of my favorites. It’s a simple design with great engineering.
The cylinder offers insulation which means you won’t have to bring the house in for the winter.
The package comes with nails which make it easy to mount this house at a suitable location outside.
Some of the other designs aren’t so straight forward and you should spend more time enjoying the services of the bee, not trying to figure out how the house can defy gravity.
Once the mason bees move in one year, you’ll have visitors every spring. That’s always a good sign.
It’s great to see tubes of different sizes which allow the house to shelter more than one species of bee. It’s a great conversation piece and has the potential to convert everyone to a bee lover.
Mason Bee House on a Budget
If you’re handy with a saw and enjoy making builds, you could build one for yourself.
It may not have as much aesthetic appeal, but if you learn more about the bees you’re hoping to attract, then you will understand how best to set up a habitat for your pollinator friends.
What if crafts aren’t your thing? You could try making one out of a can. What you need to focus on is getting the right material for the tubes. Natural materials work best because they breathe.
Paper straws work very well for this type of house and they come in various sizes. You would have to provide some shelter from the rain but that wouldn’t be too difficult.
Don’t worry about purchasing cocoons. In most cases, if you build it, they will come.
Wrapping Up the Best Mason Bee Houses and Your Next Step
Solitary bees ask so little from us. A place to lay their eggs is nice, but it’s a secondary need.
Their primary requirement is a safe environment for them to forage.
The best way to be a friend to these helpful creatures is to keep chemical use in the garden/lawns to a minimum and eliminate it altogether where possible. In exchange, they will keep us fed for generations to come.
So you’ve picked out a good mason bee house, now what? Next, you’re going to want to learn how to attract and keep them. The following video will provide you with a good foundation on how to do just that. Enjoy!