Mason Bees

My Christmas present, a Mason bee house.
     The note next to my keyboard says: 5/16 drill bit, holes 4-8", 3 ft. off ground.  It is a result of a google search for mason bees.  It all started when I got a mason bee house for Christmas (yes, my kids know that that is something I would really like  :-) --- really)  I am looking for ways to get my orchard and garden better pollinated this year.  The honey bees are truly lacking.  We are working on getting a top-bar beehive built and getting honey bees again.  Years back an elderly friend, Clarence, helped me put a couple of honey bee hives on the back of our 10 acres.  Wow! what a difference in production of everything in the garden.  The plum trees were loaded, and oh the pumpkins we had that year!  Clarence had worked  honey bees for so long he never protected himself except for the head gear.  If a honey bee stung him, he considered it good for his immune system.  Today Clarence, I think, is 98 years old.................  Those old bee hives were heavy and I didn't have the same passion as Clarence, so I let them go. The top-bar hive I think I could manage, but, that's another story.
     So back to the mason bees.  We have quite a few of them around here.  They worked the flowers and tree blossoms as hard as they could last year.  Including the dandelions - when I was picking them for wine last year I got stung!  They don't make honey but they do pollinate.  I am out to make sure I have as many of them as possible.  So, besides the nest I got for Christmas we are going to make some nests.  We will start with a big block of firewood and drill holes in it.  Evidently the 5/16 in. drill bit gives the perfect size hole, and if it is at least 4-8 in. deep, you will have more female bees than male.  It is the female bees that do a lot of the work pollinating, and of course laying more eggs.  From my reading it sounds like they don't go further than 100-300 ft. away from their nesting spot.  A couple in the orchard and a couple next to the garden is my goal.  A spot of wet clay mud helps them cap their pollen and eggs. The results of all this won't be seen until the garden of 2012.  Google mason bees, and then put a nest near your might be giving mason bee nests for Christmas gifts before long :-).

1 comment:

Swallow Acres said...

Can you make some for me too! I have alot of trees to pollinate!=)