Category Archives: Bees

Mason Bee House Construction

$3.00 in Materials

Using one 6 foot long, 1″ x 6″ cedar fence I was able to construct a basic native bee house. The entire piece of wood cost about $4.12 and I used about 2/3 of it.

Sides (2) – 6″ x 6.5″ – the tubes are 6″ so I prefer to have them slightly recessed.

Top and Bottom – both 6″ x 7″

Back – 6″ x 9″ – drill a hole at the top to support the house.

Shelf – measure to fit – approximately 4 5/8′ x 6″
This is used to put cocoons on in the spring.

I used 14 screws. Pre-drill 3/32″

Other Tips.

  • Select the cedar boards with care. Try and find boards without knots.
  • I will waterproof the roof later.
  • The boards are actually 5 7/8″ so take that into consideration in your cutting.
  • I plan to slightly tilt the house forward to help with drainage.
  • You can either buy the tubes online or make your own.
  • Please watch the video below to learn the basics.
  • You can buy bees in cocoons from Crown Bees.

Option #2 – 3″ plastic pipe.

7 Inches in length. 3″ pipe – cut with hand saw.

As of May 15th no Leaf Cutter bees have shown up.

Option #3 – 2″ x 6″ wood. Cut to fit in house.

5/16″ drill bit – 12″ long.
Testing a plain hole versus paper inserts.

Note – I used a 2 x 6 because that’s what I had in the wood pile. You could even use 2 x 4’s or 4 x 4’s. The 2″ x 6″ are actually only 1.5″ x 5.5″.

Mason Bee Tips

  • Have a clay source nearby. Bees won’t nest if they can’t find clay.
  • Point the houses toward the East or South to get the morning sun.
  • Have plenty of flowering plants close to the mason bee house.

May 15 – Mason Bee Report

As of May 15th, the mason bees have filled up ten of the 8mm holes. It seem like a new hole is filled around every day or so.

May 27th – 20 holes filled.

Bee Notes

The larvae need natural summer temperatures to fully develop into adult bees. Don’t open any nesting materials, place in refrigerator, or harvest cocoons until mid to late fall.

Protect developing bees over the summer. Place nesting materials in a Bee Guard Bag (or other breathable bag), mud capped ends up, in an unconditioned garage or shed. They need natural summer temps to develop, so don’t place in an air conditioned area. If you don’t have a garage or shed, they may remain outside, just make sure they are sheltered from direct sunlight and rain.

Bee mindful of rodents! Mice love to snack on mason bee larvae.

Clean your bee house of any mud or insect debris.

July 21, 2022

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Gardening for Beneficial Insects with Dr. Ed Spevak

Ed is a St. Louis insect expert who shares some of his knowledge. This is a great presentation.

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Hummingbird Feeders for Butterflies and Bees

butterflies-bees-hummingbird-feederOne of my late season observations was that my hummingbird feeders were attracting painted lady butterflies and bees. Since the hummingbirds were gone, I took off the top of one of my feeders and put in some plastic landing pads.

As you can see above, butterflies and bees are both attracted to this feeder. I am still using the 1 to 4 ratio of sugar to water. The bees will drink the liquid within an hour.

As you can see in the video below, it does get rather busy, but the bees paid no attention to me and were not aggressive at all.


Filed under Bees, Butterfly, Hummingbirds, Uncategorized

Mosquito Spraying – Butterflies and Bugs


Aphids love the milkweed that I plant. Since I grow lots of milkweed, I get lots of aphids. Up until approximately June 22nd, I have had a biblical plague of aphids on my milkweed plants.  A few days later 90% of them were dead or had disappeared. What happened?

I asked that question of Dr. Lincoln Brower, a monarch expert and he suggested that it looked like an insecticide had killed them. Since I don’t use insecticide, I wondered if the mosquito spraying that they do in my city might have killed them.

According to one Wall Street Journal article, spraying for mosquitoes will kill bees and butterflies, so why not aphids.

According to an article in Mother Earth News, “Do not use pyrethrum in situations where lady beetles, honeybees and other beneficials are active. Used carelessly, pyrethrum can wipe out these and other beneficial insects. ”

According to St. Louis County mosquito control, they use a product called Aqua-Reslin. They also indicated that they only spray after their traps have certain types of mosquitoes. West-Nile virus is something they don’t want in our neighborhood. You can call 314-615-4284 in St. Louis County to see what communities are being sprayed that night. What I have learned is that they don’t spray all the communities listed on each night. For example, this last Thursday they sprayed in Kirkwood, Des Peres and Ladue. The other cities were not sprayed.

Their email address is


Ed Spevak who is the Curator of Invertebrates at the St. Louis Zoo has also written a good article on mosquitoes.

While my initial thoughts were that the mosquito spraying was killing the aphids, if you look at the picture below you will see the same type aphid death, but I know for sure that there has been no spraying in our neighborhood, because it is the July 4th holiday.

Leaf #1 was June 30th. The same leaf is shown as #2 and the picture was taken on June 5th. What is killing these aphids?

One option from the University of California indicated that some wasps will lay eggs on aphids.

They also say, “Aphids are very susceptible to fungal diseases when it is humid. These pathogens can kill entire colonies of aphids when conditions are right. Look for dead aphids that have turned reddish or brown;” That is certainly St. Louis in the summer and the dead aphids I see are this color. Possibly our hot humid conditions are killing off the aphids.

What I will probably try to do in the future is to water my milkweed leaves more often to try and encourage this killer fungus and reduce my aphid population without endangering other insects.



Filed under Bees, Insecticides

Pollinator Information Videos

Here are videos from the University of Missouri and their Center for Agroforestry. While the videos are meant mainly for farmers, it’s also valuable information for any gardener.

Scott Hoffman Black


Gary Bentrup


Lauren Ponisio


Mike Arduser


Nadia Navarrete-Tindall


Ed Spevak


Panel Discussion


Leo Sharashkin

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