Boost Garden Productivity With A Bee House
Encourage Mason Bees with a Bee House
Your garden desperately needs bees and by adding a bee house, you can encourage them to hang around.
To some, bees are just a nuisance. They buzz around in lazy circles all day long and when you make a move to sit down or walk down the steps the zip around and sting you. I assure you that is not the real scenario.
But bees aren't lazy or vindictive. Quite the contrary. While they're out there droning away they're also collecting nectar from flowers and shrubs. Nectar that they're going to take back to the hive and turn into honey.
And while they're nosing around in your flowers, little bits of powdery pollen stick to their feet and the bees carry that pollen from plant to plant. That pollen is what helps your garden plants grow and reproduce. Without that pollen there would be no apples, no oranges, no bright, juicy tomatoes and no sweet, yellow corn.
In fact, without bees, our entire agricultural system would fall apart!
Now that you know how important those bees are, it only makes sense to provide them with a good home. Especially since they're doing all that work in your garden! Take a look at these bee houses to treat your bees right.
What Are Mason Bees?
Mason Bees, also commonly known as Orchard Bees, are really harmless little creatures. They're not aggressive at all and they will only sting if you're aggressive with them or if they get trapped in your clothing. They don't swarm like honey bees do, either.
A Little Bee House Ready to Use
The mason bees bring tiny bits of mud to pack into these tubes. The female bees lay their eggs which look similar to navy beans, inside the tubes. Their lifespan is short, just 5 to 6 weeks.
Why Mason Bees Are Needed
Mason bees are just a little smaller than Honey Bees and they're a dark blue color. The females typically make their nest in existing holes they find in wood. So these bees do not destroy property. They simply move into holes that are already there.
Mason Bees are the 'Busy Bees' everyone is always talking about. They visit, and pollinate, up to 20 times more flowers every day than the average honey bee. For this reason, they're invaluable to farmers who have orchards.
They do, however, work their little tails off!
Schrodt Designs Model MB-L Mason Bee Lodge
Placing a Mason Bee House in your yard will help attract the bees back to your yard and give them a place to next and reproduce. And remember, these Mason bees are gentle creatures. It's not dangerous to have a nest of Mason Bees in your yard at all. In fact, it's beneficial for your garden and fruit trees.
How To Care For Mason Bees
If you have fruit trees in your yard maybe you've noticed a decline in production over the past few years. That's because there's a definite reduction in the bee population across the United States. Part of that has to do with the loss of their natural habitat. Fewer woody areas mean fewer places to nest. Fewer nests means decreased population.
(This photo is not a mason bee, but all bees benefit gardeners by pollinating their plants. Photo by Virginia Allain)
If possible, place your bee house in an area where you've already seen some bees, preferably in an area that gets the morning sun. It's also helpful if there's a least some protection from rain.
Mason bees also like to be located near lots of colorful flowers. They also need a supply of mud, which they use to build nests inside the bee house, so locating your house near a moist patch of ground helps, too.
Flowers to Keep Your Bees Fed - Photos by Virginia AllainClick thumbnail to view full-size
Plant Native Plants for Your Bees
Often local wildflowers are overlooked as people seek out exotic plants at the nursery for their yard. I recommend including some native plants because they are hardy and suited to your climate. Also they are what the bees need for sustenance.
Read More about the Mason Bee and Bee Houses
Have You Heard of Mason Bees?
Vote in the poll
Mason Bee Guard Tubes and Inserts - 40 pack
You really don't have to do anything to entice the bees to move into the house. If it's hanging in a good location they'll find it soon enough and Nature will take it's course.
How Can You Help Preserve the Bees?
Cut back on using pesticides. Grow some native plants. Provide bee homes like these.
Mason Bee 96-hole Wood Tray Nesting Trays
Graphic from Zazzle and available on a mousepad: Anthidium Mouse Pads by spicecompany
© 2012 Virginia Allain