Monday, April 30, 2012
mason bees - woohoo!
isn't that the cutest little thing that you have ever seen??? that's my new mason bee house from a lovely company in BC called BeeDiverse. i ordered a mason bee house and bee cocoons from them! mason bees are exceptional pollinators and something that we noticed last year in our garden is that we were lacking bee activity. mason bees pollinate for their whole lives - which is about 4-5 months long. they do not produce honey or beeswax but they do produce more mason bees each year - woohoo!
this is the book, dvd and chart that i received with my mason bee home and mason bee cocoons. the dvd is just awesome, explains everything, and Dr. Margriet has the most gorgeous accent and walks you through all of the steps of what to do, and how to care for your mason bees! she has been doing this for many years - see below!
anyway - here's a closeup of the tiny tunnels in the mason bee house. the female mason bees will start by filling the back of a tunnel with mud - there's a lot of that to be found here at the Manor! once they have made a little mud cave, they will fill it with pollen and when they have enough pollen to feed a new mason bee - then they climb on the pollen and lay an egg. once the egg is laid, they close up the little house with more mud!
a female mason bee makes five or six of these little mud houses with pollen and an egg in each of the little tunnels. once a tunnel is full - they move on to another tunnel. once all of the tunnels are full, if you are lucky, some of the females will then look for holes in rotting logs - something we have a plenty here at the Manor. they spend their whole lives doing this and, again, if you are lucky, you can start with 20 bees and end up producing 5 times that number in your first year!!! another great thing is that they normally stay within 15km of their home/nest. if they like their area, several females will start new nests. after the second year, and with proper fall/winter care of the cocoons - you could have hundreds of these little super pollinators who don't sting. mason bees rock! and learning to care for them is a great way to step into taking care of honey bees. i am in love with these little things!
so here is the little house again. the yellow thing next to it is a predator guard that goes on the front of the house.
the roof of the little house lifts off and that is where you put your mason bee cocoons. the bees will eat themselves out of the cocoons and then find themselves a little home in one of the tunnels.
when i opened the end of the boxes - i saw that the bees had already woken up! they were a little sluggish as is to be expected but they were definitely ready to greet the world! sorry that there are no pics of the bees in the box but we wanted to get them into their home right away!
jambaloney built them an extra box to be sure that they were safe from the elements and from some birds. the chicken wire ensures that no birds can get into their tunnels.
here is the post that jambaloney built to put up against our most east-facing tree.
here is the tree that we put the mason bee home on! isn't it gorgeous? and don't ya love the pile of dirt, the tires and the window screen - which we use to sift all of our dirt - in the pic? man we have gone completely past hillbilly and redneck and are now pure and honest white-trash - bahahahahah!
and be sure to note that jambaloney strapped the post holding the mason bee house to the tree using rope over pieces of firehouse so as not to damage the tree bark in any way - that's the way we like to do things around here! here it is:
isn't it beautiful???
and ya know what's even better???? after only an hour we saw bees! check them out:
they are still pretty sluggish and warming themselves in the sun. but we also saw some of them checking out the tunnels.
i am loving this mason bee adventure! if you have any questions, just ask. the book and dvd are very thorough. as well, there are a lot of sites that i can direct you to.
woohoo - mason bees!