FAQ

Hunter’s Mason Bee program questions:

I can’t make it to pick up/drop off bees.  What do I do?  Please contact us at Dave@huntersmasonbees.com.  We should have partners nearby where you can pickup or drop off your bees for you. 


Where should I mount the nesting house?  Can I put it on a fence/tree?  The nesting house should be on the south side of your home, under an overhang, and about 5’ above ground.  The south side is the warmest, a wall is there for easy mating, it’s dry if under an overhang, and raccoons/predators can’t reach it if about 5’ above ground, but more importantly, you can see the activity.  Mason bees are particular with the precise orientation of a house. A tree tends to move, and be too shady.  A fence tends to not have enough surface area available for mating. How to Attach the Nesting House


My nesting house is damaged, how can I get it repaired?  Please contact us, we’ll get you a replacement in the Spring.


Wind is moving my straws around, what do I do?  Place a rock or heavy stick on top of the straws to prevent them from moving around.


How do I transfer bees from my blocks to Hunter’s Mason Bee nesting house?  See Shifting Beespage. To summarize, place your block in a box or paper sack near the new nesting house.  Ensure there are holes in the box/sack so that your bees can exit your block, exit the box/sack, and find the new straws in the nesting house


What’s the drawer for in the bottom of the house?  This was used for loose cocoon management.  Hunter’s Mason Bees will not be doing this any longer.  All new nesting houses are without the lower drawer.


My nesting house doesn’t seem to be getting much activity.  Can I move it?  If it is on the sunny (south) side of your house, we prefer that you leave alone.  If in the very beginning of mason bee activity, it could be considered.  If later in the season, it’s best not to.  When in doubt,contact us at Dave@huntersmasonbees.com.


I’ve heard that moving the straws will hurt the bee larva.  Is this true?  About a week after the mason bees are dead, most eggs have hatched and larva are busy eating the pollen.  Moving the tubes gently, with the open end always pointed up is fine for transporting the tubes.


If I give you my bees, what happens if Hunter’s Mason Bees doesn’t return the next year?  Although there is risk in every business, Hunter’s Mason Bees strives to be an ethical company.  The agreement that you sign holds Hunter’s Mason Bees accountable for replacing your initial starting count of bees. 


Timing

When do mason bees emerge?  The males begin to emerge after 3 days of over 55 degree weather.  The females will begin emerging a week or two after that.


My bees are shifting from my old block to your nesting house.  When do I take my old block down?  About mid-May you can move your old block away from being near the new nesting house.  However, don’t throw it away, rather put it away in your garage.  If there are still late emerging females, they’ll be able to escape to your yard.


Emerging

My bees don’t seem to be coming out of the paper tubes.  Am I doing something wrong?  Don’t worry.  The mason bees will come out when it’s warm enough.  If still you’re still concerned after a few weeks, contact us at Dave@huntersmasonbees.com.


My bees aren’t coming out of my block of wood.  What do I do?  Pests might have killed off a high percentage of your bees.   Warmth will inevitably wake the slumbering bees and they will emerge.  They will chew through dead bees if they’re in the way!


General Questions

What flowers are best for the mason bees? Native plants with pollen: Red current, Indian plum, Oregon grape, Big leaf maples, all fruit trees, blueberries, dandelions, and most cluster flowers.


Where do the mason bees go at night?  In general, the mason bee females will rest in the hole that they’re working on.  You can see them peering out in the late evening.


What pests affect the mason bee?

  • In Western Washington, the pollen mite and the parasitic wasp are the two main pests.  Hunter’s Mason Bees eradicates the pollen mite through use of an incubator in June/July.  The parasitic wasp is stopped by using the thick paper tubes and trapping them if they emerge in June/July.
  • The two more contagious and deadlier pests are chalkbrood (a spore) and the carpet beetle. We sample all partner's returning straws. if either of these pests are found, all straws are examined and these pests are removed.


How do honeybees and mason bees get along?  Just fine.  They blend in nicely with the other 4,000 species of bees.


Does Colony Collapse Disorder affect mason bees?  Not at all.  CCD seems to be affecting only the honeybees due to their over bred DNA strains.


How long does the mason bee live?  The males live just about 2 weeks and the female about 6 weeks.  This is similar to most bees, but in hive colonies, the bees are replenished throughout the year.


The mason bees leaving our wood blocks have tiny little bugs on them and they can’t fly away. What can I do?  These little bugs are pollen mites.  The mason bee has a tough time removing these and will probably get eaten by a bird.  Hunter’s Mason Bees eradicates this pest before they impact the mason bee in our incubator.  As a result, mason bees in the Hunter’s Mason Bees program should not have any mites.


I’ve heard about pollen mites.  When are they active?  These pests live on flowers and piggyback on the mason bee to the paper tubes where they fall off onto collected pollen.  They are active throughout the spring.  Hunter’s Mason Bees eradicates these in an incubator which does no harm to the mason bee larva.


I see the mason bees focusing on other holes in the yard.  What should I do?  Unfortunately, nothing.  Hopefully, once they finish with that hole, they’ll hopefully see the tubes in the nesting house.  Mason bees are gregarious and will look to be near to another mason bee.  Sometimes it takes only one active bee to attract others.


How can you recognize a girl from a boy?  The male has long antennae and a white mustache.  The female has short antennae and are typically much bigger.  The males do not use the paper tubes as they forage for food and wait for females to stop on a wall or tree for mating.

Male 2.jpg
Female on finger 2.jpg

Male Mason Bee

Female Mason Bee

 

What our Partners say:

I had drilled my own "bee blocks" several years ago with good initial success, but hadn't seen much activity in recent years. I expect to do better as a Partner with Dave Hunter thanks to his extensive knowledge of mason bees, and his system for eliminating pests. The fun part of the process was receiving Dave's weekly e-mail updates detailing what was happening with the bees. Dave was also very responsive to my ad hoc queries, usually offering up a range of possible explanations based on his observations from all over the Puget Sound area. The minimal time and effort required make this an easy way to contribute to the environment. Mason Bee "Farming" with Dave Hunter provided me a good payback in knowledge and satisfaction for the tiny amount of time invested.

Adam Atwell,
Vashon Fruit Club