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MASON BEE PREDATORS – A creepy look at predators up close

Millions of bee hotels are purchased every year, but not many people realize they require annual maintenance. The lack of proper care can unintentionally harm bee health. Failing to address this issue may result in infested bee hotels, endangering mason bee populations.

UC Davis entomologist Abigail Lehner, from the Williams Bee Lab, has observed an increase in invasive parasites through her studies. She emphasizes, “Houdini flies and pollen mites are prevalent parasites we encounter in mason bee hotels. The only way to reduce the risk is to perform an annual cleaning and sterilization of the cocoons and place new nesting material out every Spring.” Lehner stresses that, “The traditional method of using logs with holes drilled in them for nesting material is no longer suitable, and a change is necessary to properly care for mason bees.”

PROVIDE CLEAN NESTING MATERIAL EVERY SPRING: Pollen mites, chalkbrood and Houdini flies stay in nesting chambers and pose a threat to new generations.

USE NESTING MATERIAL THAT CAN BE EASILY OPENED: Avoid materials like bamboo or drilled logs, which encourage predator infestations. Instead, use stacking trays or cardboard tubes that can be unraveled. Watch this video to learn how to transition from harmful nesting material to healthy

BEE HOTELS DO NOT STAY OUT YEAR-ROUND: Mason bees have a short lifespan of 6-8 weeks, requiring the removal of nesting material at the end of spring to prevent summer predator infiltration. Learn how to store mason bees over summer.

CLEAN MASON BEES TO REMOVE PREDATORS: Remove cocoons in the fall, clean to remove predators and store over winter. Watch how

Solitary mason bees work alone. Each female lays her own eggs, gathers food, and finds a nest for her babies. Unlike honeybees, they don’t have hives, make honey, or protect a queen, making them gentle and non-aggressive. Mason bees are highly productive pollinators, visiting over 2,000 blossoms daily. Their unique “belly-flopping” technique achieves a remarkable 95% pollination rate, contrasting with the 5% rate of honeybee cousins.

Mason bees are easy to host and will enhance pollination in your yard. While some bee enthusiasts find fulfillment in the continuous care of mason bees throughout the year, others may opt for a more hands-off approach. Rent Mason Bees provides a convenient program where you release bees and rent the nesting material that they will clean and maintain for you.

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