pepperhead212
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Making a house for mason bees in my workshop

I was planning on doing this, even before the recent corona virus scare, telling us to stay at home as much as possible. I always spend a lot of time in my workshop, except in heavy gardening seasons!

I got the idea for this when I saw some of the mason bee houses for sale, and I said "Hey, that would be easy to make!" Maybe not really easy, but it was easy to draw up the plans, and once I did that, it was easy! I haven't finished it, but the most time consuming work is done.

First, I got some cheap cedar (a wood suggested for the bees, since finishing is not necessary), being sold at clearance because it was bowed, and nobody would buy it for deck-making! I cut them to 4' pieces, then put them on a workbench, with spacers, to let them stabilize. Then I jointed one side, until totally flat, then planed them all, to 3/4 thick. It is only 5.5" wide, and wider would have been better, but I didn't want to rout it lengthwise, as it seemed it would be weaker that way, in the thin sections.

I first cut 9 pieces, 6 5/16" wide, to make the 11 cross grain router cuts, on both sides of the piece, with a 5/16" cove box bit, set to 5/32" deep, so the 2 cuts on opposing pieces meet to make a 5/16" diameter hole.

First cut:
ImageFirst set of cuts on router table, using a 5/16 inch cove box bit. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Last cut:
ImageLast cut, at least with the router. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Unfortunately, cedar is a wood that splinters a lot, and after each set of cuts, I had to take a piece of sandpaper, wrapped around a ¼" dowel, to clean out the grooves, and the splinters sticking up. Here is a photo, showing those splinters, and cleaning them out. It didn't take long, for each set of 16.

ImageCleaning out the grooves, using a 1/4 inch dowel, wrapped around 120 grit sandpaper. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Here are the finished inserts, showing how it looks like 88 holes were drilled, all the way through.
ImageThe wood, loosely stacked, showing the future home for 88 mason bees. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

All I have to do now, is make a "cage", to hold them in, and protect them - the easy part of the job. I'll post that later.
Dave

pepperhead212
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Re: Making a house for mason bees in my workshop

I've almost finished the bee house today, all except for attaching the back, as I have to get a couple of SS straight braces, for mounting it outside.

ImageGluing up boards, to make the sides and shelves. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

ImageCutting one board at a 10 degree angle, to form the sides. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

ImageAssembled house, shown from the front. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

ImageBee house, from the side. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

ImageBee house from the back, with a piece of plexiglass that will be screwed on. by pepperhead212, on Flickr
Dave

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Re: Making a house for mason bees in my workshop

Wow that looks great! What a super cool project!

I’m always amazed by people like you who can make things like this!

... my only experience with big stationary power tools was at the university while taking a sculpture class and made some stuff in the wood shop. looooooong time ago.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

pepperhead212
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Re: Making a house for mason bees in my workshop

Here's the finished bee house - I had to get those straight SS brackets, to hang it from, and they took a long time to get here (one of those 3rd party sellers on Amazon). No big deal, as I'm not putting it up right away. I also had to order that hardware cloth, but that came right away.
ImageMason bee house, ready to hang. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

And here's the scraper I made, to clean out the cocoons with, in the fall. I just drew the design on the piece of wood, and cut out the empty sections with the bandsaw, then I rounded away the ends of the sections by nibbling them away on the bandsaw, until the fit in just right, then I tapered it toward the front on both sides on the belt sander. It fits great now!
ImageWooden scraper I made for scraping out the mason bee cocoons, in the fall. by pepperhead212, on Flickr
Dave

Jamie Ryder
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Re: Making a house for mason bees in my workshop

Hi there! I really like your woodworking effort. It requires craft & you got it. I was wondering if there's a way where I can avoid using bandsaws as I am an old timer and find such work difficult to do. Is it a way to automate the process? I'd really love to try this.

pepperhead212
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Re: Making a house for mason bees in my workshop

Welcome to the forum!

I'm not sure how you would go about automating for this - that's more of a factory type thing, that would require several types of machines, to do the various parts. The cost would be more than the cost of my house!

What types of equipment do you have, and use?
Dave



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