Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mason Bees

The mason bee is a gardeners best friend. This little bee does not live in a hive nor does it make honey but it is an amazing pollinator. A single female mason bee will visit nearly 2,000 blossoms a day. Unlike honey bees they will start earlier in the morning, finish flying later in the day and dull weather doesn't prevent them working. The mason bee does not sting which lends itself well to sharing time in the garden with them. They do not look like the traditional honey bee, mason bees are usually black to blue in color and resemble a house fly. Mason bees make their homes in small holes usually left by burrowing insects, however you can mimic this natural occurrence by building a mason bee house with several holes a piece of wood.
 The mason bee house should be sheltered and preferably near a building or shed we placed ours near the garage. Ours is homemade but you can buy pre-made ones at most garden stores. We fill ours with replaceable cardboard tubes so they can be cleaned each year. Last year we didn't get many bees so I decided to buy some mason bees this year. I bought 10.
They have already hatched and been out and about pollinating. I've seen at least 4 of them hanging out near the grapevine. One has already made it's nest in one of the tubes. I'm so pleased will these little workers and I hope to see many more of them in my yard. I've already begun planting tons of flowers and blossoms for them so they feel happy in my yard and spend their whole lives here. If you are interested in getting your own mason bee home started or purchasing some starter bees talk to your local garden centre or visit West Coast Seeds or Wildbirds Unlimited (which is where I got my bees and cardboard tubes from).

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