Where to buy mason bee houses

A good bee hotel will have tunnels that are approximately 6″ (152 mm) long and have disposable or cleanable components. The latter can be achieved through the use of (1) disposable paper liners, (2) reeds that can be easily split open, then thrown away, or (3) routered wood trays that come apart for cleaning. Avoid bee hotels that use bamboo or have unlined holes drilled in wood (neither can be cleaned); these are better called Mite Hotels. Below are ones that seem OK to me, starting with houses that have clear-plastic observation windows that allow you to spy on the bees as they do their thing.

Hotels with observation windows

Normal bee hotels

Here’s my 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.

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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