Mason Bees

If you’re a gardener, or even if you’re not, you probably know that the Honey Bee population is endangered, a situation that impacts farms, orchards and even back yard veggie gardeners.  Without pollinators, crops won’t grow and we humans won’t eat.  Scientists have discovered that a different kind of bee, a Mason Bee, is actually a better pollinator than a Honey Bee because. of their habit of “belly flopping” into a flower.  While Honey Bees perch on a flower and gather pollen on their rear legs, Mason Bees flop into the flower and come away with a belly full of pollen that they then distribute flower to flower.

Enter the backyard garden project from Crown Bee. The program encourages local gardeners to install a bee house, purchase been cocoons from Crown Bee, and “grow” a population of Mason Bees for your own garden and to pass along to local orchards and commercial gardens. This year, I’m participating!  So I thought I’d share the journey with you.

I had previously purchased a bee house and nailed it up on a tree in the pine thicket near my house.

Bees arrived via US Postal mail today at 12:15 pm.  According to instructions included in the package, placed bees in refrigerator for 20 minutes to “put them to sleep.”  As I did so, I heard one of the bee’s buzz – so at least one has emerged. Instructions say to dig a small (spade sized) hole near the bee house and keep it wet so that bees can find the mud they need to make chambers in the tubes.  20-minutes later I opened the small box containing bees and cocoons and placed it in the “attic” of the bee house.  Instructions say it can take up to 4 weeks for bees to emerge and select their nesting tube, but immediately 6 or 7 of the 20 bees emerged from their cocoons and flew out.  I could hear other hatchlings as they began to push their way past their still cocooned sisters.  Well I’ll keep you posted!

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