Attracting Pollinators with a Mason Bee House
Do you want to attract native pollinators to your garden and landscaping? There are plenty of ways to increase habitat and food sources for our native pollinators, such as mason bees. Adding native plants and other sources of nectar is a great way to attract pollinators to your yard. Once you have native bees and other pollinators coming for an all-you-can-eat buffet, you’ll want to increase the chances that they’ll stick around and start a new generation in your area. Hanging a mason bee house is a simple and effective way to attract this natural pollinator to your garden.
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You can purchase the same type of mason bee house that I have (pictured above) here. (#AD)
The Power of Pollination
One of the reasons people keep bees is for their pollination abilities. Oh, sure, honey is probably the sweetest deal bees offer, but one should not underestimate the power of pollination! Without pollinators, many of our garden treasures would not produce any food unless we hand-pollinate their flowers. That would be a very time-consuming process in a large garden. With honeybee populations in decline, we need to start looking at alternative pollinators to help keep our gardens and orchards productive…enter the Mason bee! (Note: We also need to start protecting our honeybees!)
Check out the wonderful selection of pollinator-friendly seeds available from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds. (#ad)
A Different Kind of Bee House
Mason bees don’t produce a crop of honey for us to pilfer for our larders every summer, but they do offer free pollination services. All you need to do is provide a safe home for them to raise their young and they are happy to visit your fruit and veggie flowers, spreading pollen as they go. You can attract them to your yard with plantings of fruits, vegetables, and flowers that provide nectar for the bees. They will also appreciate a mason bee house created from a wood block with holes drilled in it or a collection of bamboo sticks.
If you are interested in a similar home for Mason bees, you can either purchase one or build one with a block of wood and a drill. Use an untreated wood block at least 4 inches deep. Drill several holes 5/16th of an inch wide and 3 to 5 inches deep. The best time to hang your Mason bee house is in March when they will be looking for a nesting spot.
More About Mason Bees
Mason bees are solitary insects so they don’t gather in a colony or hive. The male can’t sting and the females rarely sting, so they are better than honey bees for pollination if you are allergic to bee stings. But play it safe and keep your EpiPen handy.
Don’t use insecticides or other chemicals around your Mason bee house, or in your garden. Even organic insecticides can kill bees and then they can’t pollinate your garden. Avoid purchasing plant starts that haven’t been raised organically; they may be treated with neonicotinoids, one of the culprits behind colony collapse disorder in honeybee populations. Plant plenty of pollen and nectar-producing flowers in your garden to feed your bees all season long. They will repay you will increased yields of vegetables and fruits. What’s not to love about that?!
Do you have a Mason bee house? Or do you keep honeybees? What other pollinators do you try to attract to your garden?