Where to buy mason bee houses

The following companies sell bee houses that have deep (approximately 6″ / 152 mm) nesting holes, have disposable or cleanable components, have protective roof overhangs (usually), and are not suspended by a string. If I’ve missed somebody, send me a note and I’ll update this post.

Houses with replaceable nesting tubes, reeds, or blocks

Houses with stackable, cleanable nesting trays

Houses with observation windows

There is no perfect house, so do a little research with local bee experts to see what might be best for your area. Also, no single house is going to attract all types of bees. Figure out what type of bee you want and then find a house that suits it. Personally, I’m a fan of having several, smaller houses so that I can situate them in different parts of the yard. I also like to think that this separation reduces the ability of parasitic wasps to lay eggs in the tunnels. I.e., if you have a hotel with hundreds of holes, that makes it very easy for parasitic wasps to go hole to hole.

I don’t see the need to buy the bees themselves. In fact, sending animals in the mail can result in their deaths when postal trucks heat up. More broadly, sending bees from one area to another might mess with local adaption (i.e., bees from one area might not have evolved to do well everywhere) and also introduce hidden pests and diseases. If you put out a good house, in a good location, and have mud and native plants … the local bees will find you.

Here’s a guide to avoiding low-quality bee houses that are for sale at most garden centers. If you’re handy, you can also make your own (it’s fun).

5 thoughts on “Where to buy mason bee houses

  1. Margaret O'Reagan-Salva

    Thank you so much fornthis information. Inwill use one of the suppliers.memtioned!

    Reply
  2. Michelle McLaurin Rodriguez

    Hi, I bought a block from SoloBee in San Diego and wonder what you think about their product. I followed the flow chart and it doesn’t have removable nests, but they are cleanable. And it doesn’t have an overhang, but I could make one.
    solobee.com

    thank you
    Michelle

    Reply
    1. Colin Purrington Post author

      Are there instructions on when to clean the holes? It’s hard when different species of bees and wasps nest in drilled holes, because then they emerge at different times. Cleaning the holes out after all the spring bees leave their nests might mean that species still in their tubes get killed during the cleaning process. Anyway, instructions should mention an emergence box … so that you can get everyone out of the block before cleaning it. Another question I have is whether the small holes get cleaned, too. I have extremely small bees that nest in such holes.

      Reply
  3. Billye Anderson

    I painted the prettiest tulip design on a house I purchased at Costco thinking I was doing a good thing. Apparently not. I guess I could permanently fill the tubes with something so this becomes garden art?

    Reply
    1. Colin Purrington Post author

      I would put it out. Then in February the next year, stick the entire thing in a large box that is equipped with a small hole. Bees will emerge and find their way out through this hole, and by the end of the year the house’s occupants will be fully gone. You can then spray it down with dilute bleach and reuse the following year. If you had another house to put up by then, you’ll still have plenty of housing for your bees. You can repeat as many times as you want. It’s a bit of work, but the above will minimize the number of parasites that hit your bees. That said, nothing beats the houses that can be taken apart … that allows you to sort through the pupae and discard the parasites. I’m not sure whether the bamboo can be removed from the the Costco house … might be worth a try if you have a hammer and chisel.

      Reply

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