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Native Bee Nest

For our 40th anniversary, we collaborated with several organizations that help pollinators thrive. The Kalamazoo Bee Club made us Mason bee hotels that we placed in Bronson Park, Crane Park, in the Portage Creek Bicentennial Trailhead bed, and at the Children's Nature Playscape. We installed them in the Spring of 2024 and plan to harvest the cocoons in early Fall of 2024. More to come on that after we go through the process and can give a first hand account of it!

This page gives you information about Mason bees, most of which come from Crown Bees.

What are Mason Bees?

Mason bees are solitary, cavity-nesting bees that are native to North America. They do not live in a hive or make honey making them more efficient at pollinating and more gentle. Males do not even have a stinger!

The life cycle of a Mason bee is 4-6 weeks in the Spring. The first few weeks of their lives are spent mating. The males die shortly after this. The females then lay eggs in nesting cavities (or bee tubes, if handmade) that are approximately
6 inches long and 8 mm wide (the width of a pencil). They deposit pollen and nectar, lay an egg, then seal off the cell in the cavity with mud like building a wall. They repeat this process again and again until the length of the nesting cavity is filled. The female then caps off the opening of the tube to protect it from predators.

After the eggs are laid, the bee larva starts developing, feeding on the nectar and pollen and spinning a cocoon. Mason bees hibernate in their cocoons over the fall and winter. They emerge in the Spring as fully formed adults. 

For a more detailed accounting of their life span including pictures, visit this Crown Bees page,



What are Bee Hotels?

The bee hotels we installed are specifically for Mason bees. The bee tubes inside are 6 inches long and the width of a pencil. They are made out of brown paper grocery bags and sealed with Elmer's School Glue, which is non-toxic to bees. The bee hotels are on a solid, stable post about 5 feet off the ground and faces the morning sun to warm them up. Mason bees need to be near a mud source (clay-rich soil is best) to build the walls of their nesting chambers - mud is their "masonry" material, hence the name Mason bee. They also need to be near flowering plants to collect pollen and nectar. 


On some bee hotels, you will see a bird guard or hardware cloth to protect from predators like squirrels and birds.

How Do I Make Bee Tubes?

To harvest the bee cocoons from the bee tubes in our bee hotels, we have to carefully cut them open to take out the cocoons. This means that we will need new bee tubes. One bee hotel takes anywhere from 100-200 bee tubes so that they are snug inside and will not fall out. That is even with blocks taking up space! 


We have step-by-step instructions on how to roll paper bee tubes. If you would roll some for our bee hotels, we will use them next Spring. These 6 inch paper tubes are also good for PVC bee hotels - Bee B&B - (as seen on the instruction sheet). Roll us 100 bee tubes and we'll give you a Bee B&B kit that has bee tubes included!

How to roll bee hotel paper tubes instructions

Mason Bee_edited.jpg

How Can I Learn More?

Aside from the Crown Bees website, they also have a very informative
YouTube channel,

Special thank you to Kalamazoo Bee Club members for making the bee hotels.

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