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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January 1st Planting

$7.99 at Menards

Promix is my favorite potting mix. Menards is the only place which had some this time of the year. Promix is also what the professionals use. This “Organic” blend claims to have nutrients which the regular mixes don’t have. I’ll test that claim later in the year.

Dec. 31 – Started the day off by planting native seeds and testing Verbena bonareinsis outside.
I’ve planted native seeds as late as March 1st with good results in St. Louis.

Covered the seed with ProMix.

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Echinacea – Collect – Dissect – Plant

Now is a good time to collect echinacea seed heads from the garden. I usually keep two inches of stem that I can hold onto later.

The seeds are the white segments in the picture. I wear gloves and use needle nose pliers to pry the seeds out.

It’s easy to do the math and see that one seed head can give you a 100 seeds and thus 100 new plants in the spring.

I’ve had equal success planting the seeds either in the fall or early spring. I cover the seeds with a bit of potting mix to mark the location.

You probably won’t get flowers the first year, but you will get lots of flowers the 2nd year.

2nd Year Plants

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1000 Seeds in 10 Minutes

Rudbeckia hirta – germinate inside in 5 days.

Rudbeckia hirta, also called Black-Eyed Susan is a short-lived perennial, which can also be sown as an annual. I planted seeds outside on March 26th and these are the flowers On July 23rd.

Here is how to get a 1000 seeds in just ten minutes.

First tear off the outer parts of the flower.
Note – I wear a glove on my left hand to protect it from the sticky parts.
Note that I also leave a 2″ stem so that it is easy to hold.

Using a philips head screwdriver, run it through the seed head to remove the seeds. The seeds are the tiny black objects in the picture above. I’ve found that you can usually get about a hundred seeds from one flower.

I also use parchment paper to collect the seeds and put them in a plastic bag.These seed heads have been sitting around for a couple of months in a paper bag, so they are plenty dry.

October 17, 2021

The plants are still flowering, but not as vigorously.

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What Animal is Missing?

What animal is missing?

No – I’m not talking about Monarch caterpillars – I’ve had plenty of those.

If you looked at this Asclepias incarnata, Swamp Milkweed, in August, you might see quite a few APHIDS on this plant.

The aphids have now disappeared from this plant and another 99 other milkweed plants in my garden.

This happens every year, so it’s a common occurrence.

I’m posting this so that other gardeners won’t freak out in June, July and August when their milkweed is filled with aphids.

I don’t use any pesticides and as a result, there are both pests and predators in the garden and over time, the aphids will be controlled.

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Echinacea Problems

Aster Yellows Disease

The most common problem I have with Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) is the Aster Yellows Disease which shows up occasionally in my garden. The above picture shows what it looks like as compared to a normal Echinacea.

The only solution to this is to dig out the entire plant and throw it away.


The second problem I have are Rosette Mites. They only affect the seed heads.

The main solution is to clip off the flower heads and get them out of your garden.

I found a great article on these two problems at this link.

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St. Louis Fall Plant Sales

Date: September 4
Time: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
$8/car donation
World Bird Sanctuary
125 Bald Eagle Ridge Rd
Valley Park, Missouri 63088

September 30 @ 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Roeslein & Associates, Inc. is hosting a native plant sale on Thursday
9200 Watson Road, Crestwood, MO


Missouri Wildflowers

September 4 and 11
8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Kirkwood Farmers Market
150 East Argonne
Kirkwood MO 63122

September 10
3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Shaw Nature Reserve
307 Pinetum Loop
Gray Summit MO 63039

September 25
9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Native Plant Expo
Webster University Bookstore
554 Garden Ave
Webster Groves MO 63119

September 30
3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Roeslein & Associates, Inc
9200 Watson Rd
St. Louis MO 63126


October 1 – Noon to 8:00 p.m.
and October 2 & 3
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Best of Missouri Market
Missouri Botanical Garden
4344 Shaw Blvd
St. Louis MO 63110

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August Soil Preparation

If you’re contemplating putting in a native seed flower bed in late fall, August is a good time to get the soil ready.

Your main job is to get rid of all the grass and weeds and have a clean area without any vegetation.
Don’t till as that will bring up weed seeds.

I’d loosen up the top 1/2″ of soil and keep the area moist to encourage any weed seeds to germinate now before the growing season.

In St. Louis, Scott Woodbury our resident expert, suggests advice from Merv Wallace…
“Merv recommends one ounce of seed mix per 400-500 square feet and 3 grams per 20 square feet.
With your 4 grams, you are looking at around 25 sq ft.”


Sow the seeds on the surface in December.

I’d suggest mixing the seed with either play sand or potting mix. It makes for better disbursement when you throw the seeds out.
Don’t mix into the soil or cover with straw.
Just let the seeds sit on the surface.
Winter frost heave will move the seeds into the upper layer of the soil to the perfect depth.
Seeds will sprout in early April.

Native plants don’t need fertilizer, but might need watering during the first year.

Note – I like to cover my seeds with a light dusting of potting mix to hide them from the birds.

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Color in the August Garden

Tiger Swallowtail on dwarf Joe Pye Weed.

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Vacation Sprinkler Setup

Orbit Water Timer

If you need to water potted plants during a vacation, here’s a basic setup which worked for me.

You first need a timer to let it know when you want the water turned on and for how long.
I used the Orbit Timer – it’s the basic unit. It uses 2 AA batteries and worked well for my last vacation.
I’d suggest testing it ahead of time so that you get the amount of water you need for your plants.

You can see most of the pots I wanted to water, plus there are a few which are hidden that it reached also. I just moved all my pots to within range and everything was alive when I came back. You can use whatever sprinkler you have on hand.

Note – I let Mother Nature take care of my lawn and other plants, although I do water ahead of my vacation if needed.

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