Suppliers of QUALITY mason bee houses and inserts
The following companies or individuals sell bee houses that have 6″ (152 mm) nesting holes, do not use bamboo, are disposable or cleanable, have overhangs, and aren’t suspended with a string.
- Bee Diverse
- Bee Foster
- Best Bee Brothers
- Buzz Heroes
- CJ Wildlife (UK)
- Crown Bees (has excellent newsletter, Facebook page, Instagram)
- Farmstand Supply
- Forest Flower Shop
- Grass Roof Company (UK)
- Good Riddance Farm
- Healing Farm
- Hive and Garden
- JC’s Wildlife
- Knox Cellars
- Mason Bee Central
- Mystery Seller
- Nurthering Nature (UK; has great blog, too)
- One Green World
- Osmia Bee Company
- Park Seed
- Pollen Bee Nest
- Potting Shed Creations
- Rock Pond Nursery
- Territorial Seed Company
- Two Bees Apiary
- Welliver Outdoors
- West Coast Seeds
If I’ve missed somebody, send me a note. Similarly, if houses on the above list have a flaw I’ve missed, let me know.
Make your own mason bee house
DIY bee hotels can be made in several ways, plus you can mix and match nest types. For example, my (below) hotel has (1) nesting trays with paper inserts, (2) wood blocks with inserts, (3) wood blocks without inserts, and (4) hollow stems (construction details here). FYI, I purchased my nesting trays and paper liners (both from Crown Bees).
The key is to build the hotel so that everything can be removed to make room for fresh nests each year. I.e., you replace everything except the house itself. Note: you can reuse drilled blocks of wood (or sections of logs) if you re-drill them (to remove debris) and then kill any residual mites and pathogens by briefly submerging in bleach (or baking, or freezing). Similarly, nesting trays should be cleaned and sterilized (Crown Bees has nice video of that).
- Anonymous (nicely routered nesting trays)
- Jordan Arata (beautifully-made observation house)
- Jason Chrisman (video how-to for simple blocks w/ parchment paper liners)
- Marc Carlton (plus excellent maintenance tips)
- Linda Chapman’s hubby
- Jan Cordell
- Emily Doorish (follow her on Instagram, Twitter for bee pics, commentary)
- Chris Kreussling
- Horticultural Centre of the Pacific
- Chris Hawkins
- Gord Hutchings (pus good overview of biology)
- Tricia Hogbin (use of cinder blocks is great)
- Lakeside Gardens (tad large but I love public displays of bee affection)
- Joe Larson
- Ed Marshall (NB: screening keeps birds from eating larvae)
- NestBoxTech (plus great instructions, links)
- Pavel (really well engineered)
- Ed Phillips (elegant array of blocks with nice hole diversity; see also this)
- Place des Jardins (trés jolie mais trop grande, je pense [sic])
- Axel Reuter
- Mark Smith
- University of Nebraska Extension (great PDF on topic)
PRO-TIP: If you absolutely want the cute look of a bee hotel but don’t want all the maintenance fuss, here’s a trick: print this photograph onto a large piece of paper and mount onto a board. To make it last, laminate or apply a coat of clear varnish.
“OMG I own a death trap what should I do?”
If you have a cheapo mason bee house that saddens you, don’t do anything rash. Just leave it up and let your current residents do their thing. But at the end of the season, after all the holes are filled, put it in an unheated shed or garage for the winter (so that birds don’t feast on the pupae). In early spring, put the whole house inside of a cardboard box (here’s an image of durable emergence box). Poke a small hole in the top or side so that emerging bees see the light and escape through that hole, and then set it outside in a place where it will stay dry. After all the bees finish emerging (summer), throw out the house. Or, better, burn it and record a video of the fire. Then post the video online to bring needed awareness to low quality mason bee houses. If you have a good photograph of a burning mason bee house, I could use one right here.
Or just want to show off your mason bee house? Email me.
If you post your house pic online and want to tag me, I’m @colinpurrington on Twitter, @colin_purrington on Instagram. If you want to see pics of all the beasties that show up at my mason bee houses, I have them all on iNaturalist.