I’ve always kept my distance from bees, I’ll blame it on a horror movie that I stupidly watched by myself when I was home sick from school. I’ve never been stung before, nor do I really care to purposely put myself in a situation where I might be.
But uh…..colony collapse? I’m more freaked out about that then a little sting. While I’ll leave the full scale beekeeping to my heroes, naked beekeeping to this brave one, and fighting against honey laundering to these guys — I thought perhaps we could provide a place to nest for Orchard Mason Bees. We hung this guy up 2 days ago.
What are Orchard Mason Bees?
(photo from Naturewide Images) Mason bees don’t produce honey, but do play an important role in pollinating, especially fruit trees – according to Gardener’s Supply, each bee visits as many as 1000 blooms per day — 20 times as many as a honeybee. Best part about mason bees? THEY ARE LESS LIKELY TO STING!!!!
In North America, they are blue-green (pretty!) and are smaller than honeybees — they kinda look like house flies.
The mason bee lay their eggs in small hollow spaces, like reeds, cracks in wood and even snail shells. The mason bees are gentle, hard working but don’t get the attention or glory that honey bees get (poor guys!)
I bought this cute bamboo mason bee home from Gardener’s Supply for $16.95. If you’re handy, you could make your own by drilling holes in a chunk of non-treated wood, or even buying these bamboo reeds specifically designed for mason bees and designing your own château for these buzzing creatures.
We placed our bamboo mason bee house in the garden area – it hangs from the roof of the chicken coop – within 2 days we saw bee activity.
The mason bee places a mud plug near the edge of the hole and then goes back and forth between flower and house to collect nectar and pollen for food for her larva. Once she’s done, the hole is completely plugged with more mud.
(why am I writing in the voice of the honey badger guy?)
The female lays her eggs – mama knows which eggs will be male and which will be female – the males are laid near the entrance and the females are near the back. Why? Because the females are more important and the males are more expendable (I swear I’m not making this up) so they’re near the front in case a predator comes by and breaks through the plug or if bad weather comes around, the females are more protected in the back.
Within a few days, the larva will hatch and eat up the pollen buffet before they spin a cocoon to hang out until the Spring.
Male bees hatch first and they chew their way out of the mud plug. Females follow a few days later.
Pretty darn cool, huh?
I was hoping to catch a bee inside (we saw a few yesterday working on this plug)
I’m hoping within a couple of weeks, we’ll have full occupancy.
There’s plenty of room, awesome view and rent is cheap (just don’t sting me) in the good part of town.
Even if you don’t have a yard, I hope you consider hanging one of these up outside – bee keeping can be as easy as this!
Learn more about Orchard Mason Bees
Mason Bee info – Buzz About Bees
Mason Bees – GardenGuy06 (YouTube)
Where to put a Mason Bee house – Crown Bees
Bamboo Mason Bee House – Gardener’s Supply
You can even buy Mason Bees
Mason Bee homes for sale (Canada)
Watch a Mason Bee emerge – YouTube