I am focused on adding healthy and sustainable elements to make my very own backyard a Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation. I am commited to creating an oasis for wildlife in my garden by providing food, water, cover, and a place to raise young.
I'm interested in attracting bees to my backyard to assist with pollination in the garden. I did some research to find out what the buzz was all about.
There are over one hundred different species of mason bees, many of them native to North America. Compared to the imported honeybee, mason bees are more effective pollinators of flowers and fruit trees. These bees are also much easier to keep. While the honeybee packs its pollen into cavities on its hind legs, the female mason bee uses a basket of hairs on her abdomen called a scopa. Not only does this hold more pollen, the scopa comes directly into contact with the stamens, ensuring more pollination per visit. They visit as many as 1,000 blooms per day.
Mason bees are also unaggressive and almost never sting. Unlike honeybees, they have no communal hive housing honey and the queen to protect. Keeping them requires only minimal effort and expense. Kids love watching female mason bees gather pollen and flying in and out of their homes in holes drilled by beetles and woodpeckers, or any narrow openings around the garden.
I thought I would assist these friendly bees by providing them a nice home. I shared the news with my Mom and she surprised me with this Mason Bee House on my birthday. We were both excited about it and I couldn't wait to hang it up! She liked the idea so much she hung one in her garden too. The house is a bundle of bamboo tubes that provide a place for mason bees to reproduce and gather pollen and nectar for their young. After laying eggs, the adults die, leaving a new generation to take over. The house should be placed against a flat surface and located in an area protected from high winds. The front ot the house should have a south or southwest exposure where it will get the most sun in winter to keep bees warm. I wedged the house in the thicket in my side yard near my kitchen garden.
The bees emerge from the tubes in the spring, so I'm off cadence with the mason bee life cycle. But the house is there ready for them to move in.
Share the buzz, help restore vital habitat while attracting beautiful wildlife to your home.