How to Build a Mason Bee Hotel

Reader Contribution by Elsie Gibeson
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Mason Bees, also known as orchard bees are docile pollinators that are easy to keep and provide a myriad of benefits for the pollinator community. In nature, mason bees build solitary nests with mud in hollow reeds, woodpecker holes or other small openings. To keep mason bees all you really have to do is provide some prime real-estate by building a mason bee “hotel.” These hotels replicate the type of little spaces that mason bees love!

Elsie Gibeson is an environmental landscape designer with Dreamscapes Consulting and chairs the Shawnee County Master Gardeners Green Team.

Elsie Gibeson spoke about the importance of pollinators and what you can do to support them at the 2015 Mother Earth News Fair in Topeka, Kansas, where these instructions were also provided, in supplement during her presentation.

Tools Needed 

• saw
• wire cutters
• drill and screw driver

Parts List 

• 8-inch length of 4 inch drainage pipe
• 1-inch length of 4 inch PVC drainage pipe
• 5-inch by 6-inch piece of wood (1/4, 1/2 or 3/4 inch )
• one piece of 10-inch-by-10-inch chicken wire
• a small tube of glue (liquid nail, Loctite etc.)
• 2 1/2-inch long sheet metal screws

Construction Details 

1. Make 3 marks on the 4-inch pipe. A) One 2 inches in from the end on the bottom. B) The others 2 inches up on both sides on the end

2. Draw a line from the bottom mark up to the 2 side marks on the end.

3. Follow the lines and cut off the wedge shaped piece. This will leave a “porch roof” for the larva tubes.

4. To put the end on set the 4-inch pipe toward the bottom of the 5-inch part of the wood piece.

5. Hold it down and trace around it.

6. Put the pipe aside and put a good bead of glue on the mark you made.

7. Set the pipe into the glue and press it down. Let dry 24 hours.

8. Drill 2- 1/8-inch holes at the top of board for mounting.

9. Drill 2 more holes in the bottom of the PVC pipe in case water gets in.

10. Fill the pipe with your choice of larva tubes.

11. Form the chicken wire over the open end of the pipe to keep the wildlife away from the tubes.

12. Take the 1 inch long piece of PVC and make one cut so you can spread it apart.

13. Slide the ring over the wire and on to the 4-inch pipe to hold the wire in place.

14. Drill 2 holes in the ring and put the ½-inch screws into the pipe to hold it together.

15. To finish the project put a coat of paint on the wood.

Nesting Tubes

Tools Needed

• scissors
• 6-inch ruler
• 2 large brown paper sacks (or Reynolds cooking parchment paper)
• one #2 pencil & clear tape.


1. Place sacks inside each other.

2. Measure a 6-inch x 3-inch block and cut through the 4 layers of the sack.

3. Separate blocks.

4. Place one block on the table and roll with your finger on the #2 pencil.

5. Place tape in the middle on block and slide the pencil out.

6. Set a cardboard toilet paper roll upright on the table and place the tube in it.

7. Continue until all tubes are filled tightly.  Four full rolls will make a full hotel.

Photo by randimal/Fotolia


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