Scott’s Bee and Wasp House Page

 

Solitary Bees and Wasps  Solitary Bee House Construction  Bumblebee Houses  Books  Yellow Jackets

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

You can store your Osmia houses in a cool shed to protect them from the rain and very cold weather. 

Start building bee houses of all kinds now for placement in early spring (1/02/2004)

 

Orchard Mason Bee                     

 

………Osmia sp.                       Passaloecus sp.            Heriades carinata

 

(Note:  Pictures Not to Scale)

 

Free bee house designs, solitary bee, pollinator, pollination, spring, orchard mason bee, Aphid-eating solitary wasps, Passaloecus, cavity, wood, wooden, Yellow jacket remedy, Bumble bee house, hive, drill, designs, plans, help native animals, Free bee house designs, solitary bee

 

Solitary Bee and Wasp Information

 

Many solitary bees and wasps are very beneficial organisms in the garden and field.  From their services as pollinators to predation and parasitism of harmful insects, different species of solitary bees and wasps perform a variety of helpful tasks.  Yet because they are usually inconspicuous (they rarely sting or bother people) they often go un-noticed and are under-appreciated.   Many species are capable of making their own nests in excavated holes in sandy soil or mud nests, but some species require existing holes in wood to make their nests.  You can help the latter by drilling holes in a block of wood (see below).  Also Avoid using insecticides, especially during flowering when bees will be present.

 

Solitary Bee House Construction

 

Take any old piece of non-treated wood (firewood, scraps of lumber) and drill as many holes in it as deep as you reasonably can without going through.  To attract a variety of solitary bees and wasps make many holes of different diameters ranging from 1/16 inch to 3/8 inch.  The holes are what the bees and wasps make their nests in.  Each individual hole is a nest for an individual female bee or wasp.  That’s what makes them solitary even though the holes are all together in one block.  See the species descriptions below for specific hole sizes, but also try others sizes to see what is in your area.  There seemed to be a lot of solitary bees and wasps around my house in Oregon, because they nearly filled up the holes I made by the end of the first season.  They seem to like smoother holes so take your time and make nice holes.  It is hard to see but some of the holes are filled with bee mud.  They are even nesting in holes that I drilled in my woodpile. 

 

 

 

Here are some pictures of bee houses I have made:

          

 

See how the professionals make solitary bee and wasp holes: USDA Bee Biology and Systematics Laboratory

 

Free bee house designs, solitary bee, pollinator, pollination, spring, orchard mason bee, Aphid-eating solitary wasps, Passaloecus, cavity, wood, wooden, Yellow jacket remedy, Bumble bee house, hive, drill, designs, plans, help native animals, Free bee house designs, solitary bee

 

Bee and Wasp Books: (Will link you to Amazon.com)

 

The Orchard Mason Bee    Brian Griffin’s book on the solitary mason bee

Bees of the World – A must have guide to bees.

Humblebee Bumblebee – A great book about Bumblebee houses by Brian Griffin

Hymenoptera of the World: An... – Identification key for wasps, bees, and ants

Solitary Wasps: behavior and history

Beekeeping For Dummies– Highly Rated (honey bee keeping)

The Social Biology of Wasps

Parasites in Social Insects

 

 

Other Books you might be interested in:

 

Good Bugs for Your Garden – Includes illustrations of many beneficial insects and organisms including solitary wasps.

A Field Guide to Insects: America North of Mexico...

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders ...

Natural Enemies Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Biological Pest Control

Pests of the Garden and Small Farm: A Grower's Guide to Using Less Pesticide

The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control: A Complete Problem-Solving...Without Chemicals

The Gardener's Guide to Common-Sense Pest Control

Ask the Bugman!: Environmentally Safe Ways to Control Household Pests

 

Amazon.com also sells Tools and Hardware, and much more.

All without sales tax in most areas – Free shipping for orders over $25 (restrictions apply).

 

I really like my:

 

Ryobi 875R 4-Cycle Straight Shaft TrimmerPlus – less pollution than 2 cycle

Ryobi GC720R TrimmerPlus Add-on Garden Cultivator – lots of power

 

 

Free bee house designs, solitary bee, pollinator, pollination, spring, orchard mason bee, Aphid-eating solitary wasps, Passaloecus, cavity, wood, wooden, Yellow jacket remedy, Bumble bee house, hive, drill, designs, plans, help native animals, Free bee house designs, solitary bee

 

A few solitary bee and wasp species

 

Orchard Mason Bee (Osmia sp.)

 

The orchard mason bee (Osmia) can be a very good pollinator of early spring plants and fruit trees.  It is very easy to make an abundance of housing for these loner bees and it is fun to watch them move in.  They are especially important as pollinators, because many social bees are in peril. The bees look very similar to common flies, so don’t get the two mixed up!  They benefit from 5/16” (8mm) diameter holes 6” to 10” deep.  Shallower might be ok, but they will make more females if the holes are 6” to 10” deep, so you might want to get a heavy-duty drill and an extra long drill bit.  Put the nest blocks up in February and the bees will usually be done building by early June.  Leave them alone until at least October so the larvae inside can remain undisturbed.  Then you can take them down if you want to move them to your orchard or wherever, but I just leave them up where they are. Put the houses up facing south to southeast to let a little morning sun on the houses.  Plant Pieris japonica as an early spring nectar source for the bees.

 

 

Orchard Mason Bee              

………………Mason Bee                                   flying mason bees……..

 

Aphid-eating solitary wasps (Passaloecus spp.)

 

Aphid-eating solitary wasps (Passaloecus spp.) seem to like 1/8” to 3/16” diameter holes drilled in wood.  I’m not sure how deep they prefer but I think deeper (4+ inches) is better.  These tiny (1/4 to 1/2” long) wasps can pack a lot of aphids in their nest, so they may end your aphid problems if you build up a population of them (no guarantees though). They come out in mid-July and stay around until late fall. They use pine sap in their nests so near a pine tree would be great, but they seem to nest away from pine trees too.  When they first move in they make a sticky pine sap ring around the opening of the hole (she is holding a ball of sap in the picture to the left), so you’ll know they’ve been there.  It is fun to watch them bring in little aphids to their hole.  I’ve seen them gathering nectar from dill flowers so planting some dill might help them along. (See other plants that attract beneficial insects at my Beneficial Insect and Butterfly Page). I got most of this solitary wasp information from a book by: O’Neill, K.M. Solitary Wasps: behavior and history. Comstock Publishing Assoc. Ithaca. ISBN: 0-8014-3721-0

 

 

Heriades carinata (aka the Onion bee)

 

“Onion bees” (Heriades carinata) are another kind of solitary bee I had in my garden in Oregon.  They too are tiny but a little bigger than the aphid-eaters.  They are late summer pollinators.  Apparently they like 1/8” to 3/16” diameter holes because they moved in quickly to a house I made for the aphid eating wasps.  Brian Griffin at Knox Cellars helped me identify these bees.  They are able to hover in one place pretty well.  You may notice pollen accumulating under their nest block.  It seems to fall off them when they land.  

 

 

 

Free bee house designs, solitary bee, pollinator, pollination, spring, orchard mason bee, Aphid-eating solitary wasps, Passaloecus, cavity, wood, wooden, Yellow jacket remedy, Bumble bee house, hive, drill, designs, plans, help native animals, Free bee house designs, solitary bee

 

Bumblebee houses

 

Bumblebees, although not solitary bees, are good pollinators too.  The picture to the left is a bumblebee dusted with pollen coming out of a squash flower.  Bumblebees normally nest in abandoned rodent holes or anywhere there is a grapefruit size cavity with a small opening.  I wouldn’t count on passively enticing them into a house, as that hasn’t been very successful.  You can catch a queen flying around in the early spring and put her in a constructed house to show her where it is (Humblebee Bumblebee, by Brian Griffin).  The following links show several variations of Bumblebee Nest Box Plans: Plan 1, Plan 2.  The picture to the right is from the Plan 2 link. Although one of the bigger and therefore ‘scarier’ bees, bumblebees are actually very docile and rarely sting unless handled. 

 

 

 

 

Free bee house designs, solitary bee, pollinator, pollination, spring, orchard mason bee, Aphid-eating solitary wasps, Passaloecus, cavity, wood, wooden, Yellow jacket remedy, Bumble bee house, hive, drill, designs, plans, help native animals, Free bee house designs, solitary bee

 

See these links for more bee and wasp information:

 

Pollinator’s Paradise: A great site with lots of info on Solitary bees as well as other species

USDA Bee Biology and Systematics Laboratory: Housing instructions, bee plants, etc. – very good.

Knox Cellars: Some info on bees, they sell bee houses, Brian Griffin is a solitary bee expert.

Solitary bee page: This guy seems a little wacky, but he’s got some good pictures and more links

Solitary Wasp Page:  Good solitary wasp information

Alternative Pollinators:  Great bee links; solitary bees, bumblebees, etc.

 

Free bee house designs, solitary bee, pollinator, pollination, spring, orchard mason bee, Aphid-eating solitary wasps, Passaloecus, cavity, wood, wooden, Yellow jacket remedy, Bumble bee house, hive, drill, designs, plans, help native animals, Free bee house designs, solitary bee

 

A note on getting rid of Yellow Jackets (or perhaps not):

 

Yellow Jackets and Hornets actually kill many harmful insects so I wouldn’t kill them unless you have to (e.g. you are allergic or they are nesting somewhere that poses a threat to people or pets), just give them a wide berth.  If you must destroy a nest in the ground, don’t reach for the insecticide right away.  Make a note of where the nest is in the daylight.  After it is dark and cool later at night, try pouring a large pot of boiling hot water (Careful!) down their hole.  You can boil the water inside the house, but it might be safer to use the camping stove to boil it closer to the hole (but not too close) so you don’t have to carry the hot pot so far.  I was amazed at the simplicity and efficacy of this method when I first heard of it and tried it.  It kills the nest and doesn’t contaminate the area.  If you tried the hot water trick a couple times and it didn’t work then go to the insecticide (but I doubt you’ll have to).  I’m not sure this would work or be safe to do on an above ground nest, so insecticide might be best there.  As always be careful not to get yourself stung!  If you are at all uncomfortable or if you live in an area where there are Africanized honeybees (None of these in the Pacific Northwest), call a professional.  More yellow jacket information. USE THIS ADVICE AT YOUR OWN RISK!

 

Free bee house designs, solitary bee, pollinator, pollination, spring, orchard mason bee, Aphid-eating solitary wasps, Passaloecus, cavity, wood, wooden, Yellow jacket remedy, Bumble bee house, hive, drill, designs, plans, help native animals, Free bee house designs, solitary bee

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

 

Q1. Here is my vague written description of an insect, What kind of bee/bug is this? 

A1. I probably can’t help.  Even if you showed me a picture I wouldn’t know.  I only know the bees I have listed on this page.

 

Q2. How do I get rid of the bees/wasps in my house, my deck, my backyard, my attic, my car, my woodpile, or anywhere else? 

A2. See the above advice and/or call a professional. 

 

Q3.  I, my husband, grandma, neighbor am/is allergic to bees.  What should I do?

A3.  Talk to your doctor and stay away from bees.

 

Also see my Book Recommendations

 

AOL Users: If the pictures do not come up after a few minutes (some are large and may take a while), make sure that you are "in AOL." Then go to "My AOL," select Preference, and then select WWW. Turn off the Use-Compressed-Images option. Then select the Empty-Cache-Now button and then “reload” or “refresh” in your task bar.

 

I would be happy to answer any other questions at  bathabitat@gmail.com

I really would!

 

Free bee house designs, solitary bee, pollinator, pollination, spring, orchard mason bee, Aphid-eating solitary wasps, Passaloecus, cavity, wood, wooden, Yellow jacket remedy, Bumble bee house, hive, drill, designs, plans, help native animals, Free bee house designs, solitary bee

 

Bees aren’t the only beneficial insect:

 

See my Beneficial Insect and Butterfly Page

 

Free bee house designs, solitary bee, pollinator, pollination, spring, orchard mason bee, Aphid-eating solitary wasps, Passaloecus, cavity, wood, wooden, Yellow jacket remedy, Bumble bee house, hive, drill, designs, plans, help native animals, Free bee house designs, solitary bee

 

 

  

I use ms11.net and have been very happy with it.  It really is only a one time fee of $11. 

 

 

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Free bee house designs, solitary bee, pollinator, pollination, spring, orchard mason bee, Aphid-eating solitary wasps, Passaloecus, cavity, wood, wooden, Yellow jacket remedy, Bumble bee house, hive, drill, designs, plans, help native animals, Free bee house designs, solitary bee

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Last Update 01/27/2008 SMH