A Guide to Raising Mason and Leafcutter Bees with Beelife

Mason and leafcutter bees do not live in colonies hives like regular honey bees. They are also important to the pollination carrying pollen from one blossom to another on their hairy bellies. Both of these fascinating insects are great to raise as family pets and with the help of Beelife you can learn how..  

Both of these bees can be raised under similar conditions, but each type of bee is more active at different times of the seasons. Mason bees will emerge from their cocoons in the early spring and instantly begin the all-important task of pollinating blueberries, apple, pear, strawberry and cherry plants. 

Leafcutter bees on the other hand, emerge from their cocoons in the early summer and set about pollinating squash, peas, melons and other varieties of summer fruit. But both types of bees are generalists and will visit all types of flowers and plants in your garden.  

You can expect Crown Bee products to arrive at your location with a full list of details instructions. Bees need fairly consistent daytime temperatures between 55°F — for Mason Bees — and 75°F —for Leafcutters. Make sure you also consider when your plants will begin flowering so you can be sure your bees arrive on time to meet the blossoms and carry out the pollination process.   

Tips for Bee Raising Success

Install the bee house and place cocoons

Begin by selecting a suitable south facing wall that will receive plenty of warm sunlight in the morning and shade in the afternoon. Bees are coldblooded animals which means they will need the warmth of the sun like you and I need a good cup of joe. Make sure you install their home at y level so you can observe these fascinating animals in action. 

Installing a bee home is as simple as hanging a picture on the wall. Mason and leafcutter bees are not especially long-range flyers and have a flight distance of about 300-ft from their home base. Therefore, you will want to make sure your Garden Tower is pretty close to their home.

Set out Nesting Materials — Mason bees prefer spacious 8mm holes and Leafcutters prefer cozy 6mm holes. You can use the same bee house for either bee because they are active at different times of the season. Just swap out the materials they will need for their homes.

Once they have been provided with suitable nesting materials, place their cocoons on top and towards the back. The idea is that the bees will cross over their new homes as they emerge from the nest so that they know where they will return. Make sure that the cocoons are not placed in direct sunlight. 

Female mason bees will need some damp clay-like mud for building protective walls in their nests. If your soil is especially sandy or contains a lot of humus, you can supplement it for some of the dry mud we offer in our BeeWorks kits. For best results, you will want a texture of mud that will stick to the fingers when it is pinched.

The BeeGuardian bag protects Mason and Leaf Cutter bees from ants and parasitic wasps.

The female mason bee will only fly for 4 to 6 weeks. Once she has finished constructing her nest, she fills the hole with all the eggs that will hatch next year. She will then close the nest with a layer of mud. It is very important that the nest is well-protected from ants, birds and parasitic wasps. You can protect these nests further by using the Bee Guardian. Then store the nest in a warm shed or a garage that has a temperature range similar to what you will find outside. The mason bee will need the comfortable warmth from the summer sun as they develop. 

Much in the same way, female leaf cutter bees will fly for only 4 to 6 weeks, but because these bees develop much faster than mason bees, they will emerge from their nest the same summer. At the end of the summer, they will no longer be able to fly. At this time you can remove the leafcutter materials that you provided in the BeeGuardian bag that you used in the fall and winter. Store these materials in a cool dry place. Because they are very delicate, you don’t want to harvest leaf cutter cocoons until early next spring. 

Return healthy cocoons to your garden for additional pollination.

Mason bee cocoons can be safely stored within your refrigerator. This will ensure that they spend the winter in a fairly consistent temperature range. The Crown Bees Humidbee container, part of your BeeWorks kit, is designed to maintain the optimal level of humidity for your nesting bees. 

In the Spring, when the daytime temperatures have risen higher than 55°F and the flowers are beginning to bloom, you can set out the harvested Mason Bee Cocoons to hatch. 

Leaf cutter cocoons will need to be incubated within the home. You can expect the entire process to take about 6 weeks at a temperature of 70°F. 

Raising your leafcutter and mason bees will take about an hour out of your time each year. But you will probably spend much longer than that staring at your bees and watching them go about their business. 

Ensure your garden’s pollination

Raising leafcutter bees and mason bees is beneficial to your home garden. You will find that these amazing little insects can help you grow a better crop with greater yields. Certain flowers will need to be visited several times in order for the fruit to begin growing properly. For example, pear flowers need to be pollinated about 30 times before the fruit can begin to grow. Flowers that have been properly pollinated will grow bigger, fuller and more delicious fruit. 

It has been noted that providing improved pollinators to your garden can improve your crop yield by as much as 24%. You can expect great benefits from the minimal time taken to provide proper pollinators for your home garden.

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