MASON BEE HOUSE
We just added a little Mason bee house to the garden and stocked it with hollow tubes and Mason bee larva, so we should have bees within days.
MASON BEES AS POLLINATORS
Mason Bees are terrific pollinators, several times more efficient than honey bees. Their bodies are covered with hairs, so they become covered with the pollen when they land on a flower. Then they easily transfer the pollen to the next flower. They only forage within a few hundred feet of their home, unlike the honey bee that travels a mile or two. They are gentile and rarely sting, so they are the perfect pollinator to add to a garden. Since we have been planting flowers for honey bees for some time, they should have plenty of sources of pollen and nectar in our garden.
We got this little house from an online company, Crownbees. It came with lots of information and instructions, larva, tubes, mud, and mason bee attractant. So easy. We hung it on a nail on the fence, put the bee larva in the attic, and the tubes in the house. Within days they were hatching and working in the garden.
Mason bees are named for their use of mud or other materials to construct their nest. They are solitary bees that do not produce honey or wax. The female builds a nest in a hollow twig or a naturally occurring hole or crack. They don’t drill holes or damage wood. She gathers nectar and pollen to supply the nest and lays her eggs in it. Then she partitions and seals it with mud.
A few weeks later, we added leafcutter bees to the house. They can live in the same house, but they like slightly smaller reeds, so there are two sizes in the house.
The birds moved in, built a nest under the eves of the house next door and took to sitting on the fence. We were entertained by their acrobatic flights, until we realized that they were catching and eating our bees. Circle of Life.