Sunday, April 13, 2014
DIY Mason Bee Hive of Paper
Our wonderful neighbors have the busiest pets - mason bees! They only live 2 months but help pollinate our plants during a crucial time. Our blueberry bushes were the fullest they've ever been last year and our neighbors are generously sharing their extra cocoons with us.
Although they also gave us a pre-made house, there are so many extra cocoons that I wanted to build a second house - out of paper of course. It's easy enough to buy paper straws, but where's the fun in that?
When the bees hatch, they remember the color of their "door" - in this case green, to match the tissue box. I made a removable velcro door "lock to keep the door from moving around, yet allow the paper tubes to come out. I will be placing the cocoons inside the hollow door cavity. Here you can see the opposite side of the velcro and the other door stopper along the top.
Remove the door stoppers and out comes the paper tubes. Mason bees don't sting (unless squeezed or stepped on) and they don't make honey - just more bees. They lay eggs in the tube, place pollen next to the egg, then mud up a wall to divide the space for the next egg. In the fall when the cocoons have hardened, it's a good time for us to clean out the tubes, remove the mud, get rid of spider mites and store in the fridge to keep them safe from predators like wasps.
I've heard with store-bought paper tubes you would soak them in water to slowly unravel. To make it easier on myself, I only glued a tiny bit near the back end to make insertion into my hive easier - should be easy to slit open with a craft knife. I cut sheets of 8.5x11 paper in half to get 8.5x5.5 sheets. Then I cut them down into thirds to approximately 2.75 x 5.5 inches (so 6 pieces in total per sheet). I rolled them around a crochet hook, glued just the very end, and inserted into the holders.
I made two tube holders with 8.5mm holes. The front holder has holes on both sides, allowing the tube to pass through. The back holder is solid on the back wall, keeping the tubes even. I plan to color code the front wall to make it easier for them to find their tube - apparently they get confused if it all looks the same.
I have no idea if this will work - check back with me in the fall. There are many tutorials on-line showing so many materials used. One could buy the paper tubes and encircle with a rubber band and achieve the same result. I guess I could have made it full of tubes and no holders, but it was just fun to make the holders with my Silhouette SD die cutter.
Have you ever made a paper mason bee hive?