How and Why to Bring Native Bees to Your Backyard

How and Why to Bring Native Bees to Your Backyard

Adding a small bee house to your backyard is a fantastic way to attract bees and aid in pollinating your garden.

You can choose to attract many different pollinators and houses are designed for each one. But we recommend in most areas to look first to mason bees.

Why Mason Bees?

Mason bees are considered some of the best backyard pollinators due to their high efficiency in pollination and non-aggressive nature. These solitary bees are more effective than honeybees at pollinating flowers on a per-visit basis, making them ideal for boosting garden productivity and health. Additionally, mason bees are less likely to sting, making them a safer choice for family-friendly gardens.

The best place to put a mason bee house is on a south or southeast facing wall that receives morning sun and minimal wind. It should be mounted at least 3-5 feet above the ground and have no vegetation directly in front of the entrance to ensure easy access for the bees. To attract mason bees, ensure that your garden has a variety of native flowering plants that bloom throughout the spring and a water source (especially with stones or something for them to land on to drink).

Attracting pollinators to your yard benefits not only your garden but also the broader community by enhancing plant health and increasing biodiversity. Pollinators like bees, butterflies, and birds promote more abundant fruit and vegetable yields and improve the overall quality of floral landscapes. This not only beautifies the neighborhood but also supports local ecosystems by sustaining a variety of plant and animal species.

Increasing the number of backyard hives and habitats for pollinators can significantly impact our current pollinator issues, notably the decline in bee populations and other pollinating insects. By providing safe and nourishing environments for these creatures, homeowners can help counteract the effects of habitat loss, pesticide use, and other environmental pressures that threaten pollinators. More backyard habitats can lead to increased pollinator diversity and resilience, which in turn supports broader ecological health and enhances crop yields and diversity. This grassroots effort can contribute meaningfully to global conservation goals by stabilizing and even increasing pollinator populations, thereby ensuring the sustained pollination necessary for both natural ecosystems and agricultural productivity.

It couldn’t be more simple. Here are step-by-step instructions to guide you through the process:


Add a Bee House

  • A bee house (purchased or DIY) made of untreated wood.
  • A sunny, sheltered spot in your garden safe from strong winds. Find a spot that receives morning sunlight but is partially shaded during the hottest part of the day.
  • The bee house should be placed at least 1 meter (3 - 5 feet is ideal) above the ground to avoid predators.
  • Securely mount the bee house against a flat surface or hang it from a secure hook. Ensure it's stable and won't swing or sway too much.
  • A water source: a shallow dish Or a bird bath near the bee house will do fine but important to add stones or marbles for bees to land on ensuring they won't drown.
  • Avoid moving the bee house once bees have started using it.


Bee-Friendly Garden Maintenance:

Avoid Using Pesticides. Refrain from using pesticides in your garden, as bees hop from bloom to bloom they will consume these pesticides and die but also will harm other pollinators and lovely creatures in your yard or garden. Opt for natural pest control methods instead.

Plant Bee-Friendly Flowers: Enhance your garden with native, flowering plants that bloom at different times of the year to provide a consistent food source.Examples include lavender, sage, sunflowers, and wildflowers.

Spring garden maintenance plays a crucial role in supporting early bees, who emerge in search of food after the long winter months. An important, yet often overlooked practice is to delay the cleanup of old leaves and garden debris until temperatures consistently warm up. These areas provide essential shelter for overwintering pollinators. Additionally, consider leaving dandelions and other early blooming wildflowers intact for a while longer. Dandelions, often seen as pesky weeds, are actually one of the first food sources available to bees in the spring. By allowing them to flower, you provide a crucial nectar and pollen source when little else is available. This approach not only aids in the survival of early-emerging bees, such as mason bees and leafcutter bees, but also supports the overall health of your garden's ecosystem by encouraging biodiversity and beneficial insect activity. Adjusting traditional spring cleaning habits in your garden to be more bee-friendly is a simple yet impactful way to contribute to the welfare of pollinators and, by extension, the environment at large.


Bee House Maintenance

Check the bee house periodically for signs of wear or damage and clean it out in early spring before new bees arrive. Some bee houses are designed to be low maintenance, but you should follow specific cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer or from reputable conservation organizations.


Supports Pollination: Bees play a crucial role in pollinating your garden plants, leading to better yields of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Attracting bees helps to increase the biodiversity of your garden ecosystem

We can tell you first hand since we got our bees our property has exploded with flowers we’ve never seen before, with other pollinators we’ve never seen before including butterflies, other bees, especially jolly bumblebee, sweet hummingbirds and with an abundance of fruit and berries like we’ve never had. It’s truly been remarkable and beautiful and increases every year so far. And for our neighbors too btw.

Educational: It provides a unique opportunity to observe and learn about the lifecycle and behavior of bees and other pollinators. Easily one of the most fascinating and impressive creatures on this earth. We are always learning new and exciting things about our little “girls”.


Types of Bees Attracted

Solitary bees, such as mason bees and leafcutter bees, are the most likely to use bee houses. These bees are non-aggressive, excellent pollinators, and do not live in hives like honeybees. Each female bee tends to her own nest, laying eggs in individual compartments with pollen and nectar for the larva to consume.

Mason bees and leafcutter bees, while exceptional pollinators, do not produce honey like honeybees. Their value lies in their efficiency at pollinating plants, including many fruits and vegetables. Mason bees are known to be especially adept at pollinating early spring blossoms, such as fruit trees, due to their early season activity. Leafcutter bees, active later in the season, play a crucial role in the pollination of summer flowers and vegetables. Although these bees do not provide honey, their contribution to a healthy and productive garden is invaluable, ensuring the set of fruits and the productivity of flowering plants.

A small bee house can significantly impact the pollination of your garden. A single mason bee, for instance, is estimated to pollinate as much as what 100 honeybees can achieve, making them incredibly efficient. While the exact area a small bee house can pollinate will vary based on factors like the density of flowering plants and the local bee population, a single house can support the pollination needs of a small to medium-sized garden. For larger gardens or to ensure comprehensive pollination across a wide variety of plants, incorporating several bee houses, spaced throughout the area, can be beneficial. This not only increases the pollination coverage but also supports a larger population of these beneficial insects, enhancing biodiversity and the health of your garden ecosystem.

Mason bees and leafcutter bees are known for being particularly docile and are unlikely to sting unless they are handled roughly or feel directly threatened. Unlike honeybees, which can be more defensive of their hives, these solitary bees do not have a colony or honey stores to defend, which significantly reduces the likelihood of them stinging.

Mason Bees

Mason bees are excellent pollinators and are often encouraged in gardens for their pollination capabilities. They are non-aggressive and typically only sting if squeezed or stepped on. Their stings are less painful compared to those of honeybees.

Allergic Reactions

For individuals with bee sting allergies, it's important to note that while the venom of different bee species varies slightly, someone who is allergic to one type of bee sting might potentially react to others. However, because mason bees and leafcutter bees are less likely to sting, the risk of being stung and having an allergic reaction is lower compared to more aggressive species. Despite the lower risk, anyone with known allergies to bee stings should still exercise caution around bees and carry necessary medical treatments (like epinephrine auto-injectors) as a precaution. The severity of an allergic reaction can vary widely among individuals, and it’s always better to be prepared and consult with an allergist for personalized advice. By following these steps, you'll create a welcoming environment for bees in your garden, contributing positively to local ecosystems and enjoying the fruits of your labor through enhanced garden pollination.


Check out our Mason Bee Backyard Pollinator Gift Box in our catalog.


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