Mason Bees & Scoping Out the Honey Bees


This is the back of our middle building, the shed/carport/my studio building. When we had our inspection last year before moving in the inspector mentioned that bees had been boring holes into the wood on the back of the building along the top near the roof. I mentioned this to Chris after we moved in but we never really saw the bees and coupled with the busyness of moving into we didn’t investigate into it.

A few weeks ago I noticed that what I suspected to be mason bees hovering in the area. Since then we realized they were heavily utilizing that area and sure enough Chris found them chomping out holes to lay their larvae. Even if you stood near the back of the building you could even hear them chomping out the wood. Not so good.

Last weekend Chris spent time plugging the holes and then we hung up three mason bee ‘houses’ for them to use instead. I actually haven’t gone to follow up and see if they are using them yet so this weekend I need to poke my nose in and see what’s going on. I thought it was funny that the houses we ordered happened to be the one that Chel wrote about on Sprout Dispatch in early March.

So, that is nice we’ve got the mason bees out there!

On Monday I had to get into our honey bee hive to check and see if the queen had been freed by the rest of the bees. I was extremely nervous about doing this as Chris is out of town and he’s definitely read more about them than I have but we went over everything before he left. I almost forgot that I needed to wear jeans when going out there and was about to go out with the top suit and some shorts and then realized that was not a smart thing to do be doing as a novice keeper.

Jeans on and suited up, out I went.

I was also going to be switching out the sugar water that had come with the hive. We won’t be feeding them sugar water permanently, this is only temporary until likely this weekend, something to supplement them while they get established. We had noticed a few bees buzzing around over the weekend in the flower garden but not enough for us to be satisfied with them getting enough food to get started. So, Chris put the sugar water in there and then promptly came in and brought three bees with him! Note: check clothes a second time before coming in the house. Don’t worry, the bees were returned safely outside without any harm!

Anyway, back at the hive I had to open up the hive, move the bars slowly back and check out the little box that the queen was in. The bees were definitely noisy and got louder if I moved too fast, reminding me to move gently. It was fun to see how they hold onto each other, creating little tails of bees clinging fast as I moved the bars. Finally I arrived at the queen box and I noticed they had already started sealing wax on the top as I had to pull pretty hard to get the box off the lip of the bar. There were bees clinging to the outside of the box as I lifted it up and I did glimpse a bee inside the box but after I shooed the bees off the outside I noticed the inside was now empty. Hmm. I flipped the box over and noticed the ‘candy’ that had sealed up the bottom had been eaten through and thus the queen had been freed already. The bee I saw was likely just a worker bee exploring.

I was glad of this because otherwise I was going to have to pry open the cork that was on top of the box and let the queen out myself. Next I replaced the bars back in order and then switched out the sugar water for the Mason jar of sugar water I had made up. Finally I put all the bars back in place and let them bee. (oops, I’m already subbing words…be for bee. hah!)

Every morning and evening I open up and check the hive via the window on the front. They were quiet this evening, huddled together after this cool front that came through this afternoon. They have definitely laid down a line of wax along the tops of the bars but no significant comb being built yet.

And if you know me in real life and know how my pets ‘talk’….well, the bees got their voice this afternoon. 😉


  • Chris

    We have a problem with those wood boring bees, too. You have to let me know if that mason bee hive works! We patched up the holes last year with that expanding foam stuff. What do you use?

  • Beegirl

    Congrats on your bees!! We still had one queen that wasn’t released when I looked yesterday. This batch of bees has such a lovely temperament. Was trying to get them fed before the rain ~ now it is 38 degrees with a bit of snow this morning ..grrrr… Can’t wait to see your progress. I love having them in the garden. Just doesn’t feel complete without them. HAVE FUN!!

  • Chris

    Ok, our problem bees are actually carpenter bees. I don’t think the hive will work for them as they are solitary. Guess I just need to keep my spray foam and tennis racket ready!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.