You may have heard about honey bee problems (colony collapse disorder) which are affecting pollination of fruit, nut, and other crops worldwide. Now more than ever our local native pollinators are important. I have been experimenting with and trapping native pollinators, mostly mason bees. I have learned a great deal about them including which artificial nests are preferred. I may possibly have even discovered an undocumented sub-species of local solitary bee (I'm far from an expert of course). There are hundreds of species of solitary bees in North America, and they are actually far better pollinators than honey bees on a bee for bee basis (the honey bee is not native to North America by the way, it was imported, but in their defense they make for good pollinators due to their massive numbers per hive, plus they make delicious and nutritious honey so don't get me wrong, I love honey bees too!).
Solitary bees like very specific sized holes for nest building, if you observe them for a while and provide them with choices, they will soon tell you exactly what they like:
(That's a fire extinguisher if you couldn't tell. Boy will that bee be shocked if I have to put out a fire!)
Anyway, I am happy to report that my bees do a fantastic job of pollinating my fruit trees.
As you observe your bees in the Spring, you may find that they like to bump into you or even land on you, which can be lots of fun but may freak out those that have an irrational fear of bees. These little guys won't sting.
I was interviewed regarding my bees, and Phil Forsyth (Orchard Director for the Philadelphia Orchard Project and owner of a landscaping business specializing in edibles) did a fantastic job of summarizing how I manage my bees including nest block construction, liners, sanitation, etc. CHECK OUT Phil's ARTICLE HERE.
Here is a video I made showing how I build mason bee blocks: