Alternative materials for orchard mason bee nests

The splendid news – for those of us beginners working to understand the reproductive needs of solitary bees – is that orchard mason bee nesting tubes can be built from a wide spectrum of materials. On this note, I found it extremely compelling to experiment with the stems of the cup plant. Given the 5/16-inch diameter requirement for the opening of a nesting tube to be desirable for the female orchard mason bee to lay eggs inside, it was exhilarating to discover that the pith of the dead cup plant (Siphium perfoliatum) stems could be “drilled” into by simply pressing a 5/16″ wooden dowel into it.

If you have access to these (or similar) stems, the following photos are provided to describe the simplicity of the process you can go through to create orchard mason bee nesting tubes.

I would like to extend a huge thank-you to our Charlie Menting of Skills for Tomorrow High School and our newest intern from Cretin Durham High School for volunteering to create the first prototypes of this experimental – and yet highly natural – nesting material.

If you try these nests out this spring, please let me know the results.

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