Pollination is an important part of a healthy garden, not to mention a healthy planet. Without pollinators like bees, bats, and butterflies, the plant life would soon cease to exist… or at least dwindle to where humanity could no longer be sustained as it is today.
Bees, one of the most efficient and effective pollinators in the world today, are struggling to survive. While research has shone a little light on the destructive nature of things like pesticides, insect resistant GMO crops, and parasitic infestations, no one is sure why so many bees are dying so quickly all over the world. Roughly 31% of colonies died in the US in 2012. Bees are literally vanishing from our everyday lives… and without our help, they may disappear from the world entirely, and without them, we too will cease to exist.
So, whether it’s for self-preservation, outward concern for your fellow human beings, or just a general interest in preserving the planet, it is your duty to reverse the situation that human-kind is so deeply responsible for today.
Mason Bees vs Honey Bees: These solitary cousins of the traditional honey-bee may not deliver delicious golden goop for your consumption (see: honey everlasting), but they have some serious upsides. Mason bees don’t sting or bite when “provoked” (unless you literally crush them), and they outshine their pollinating brethren by far (working at a level nearly 100x that of their honey-making counterparts). Requiring next to nothing for cleanup/check-in and only the simplest of structures to house them, Mason bees are among the easiest pollinators to give a home to.
DIY Mason Bee Home: Mason bees like to nest in small holes bored into woody structures like 2x4s, reeds, logs, and other pulpy materials. They are naturally curious and opportunistic, using pre-built structures and holes, rather than carving them out for themselves.
By following the basic bullet-points below, you’ll likely to have a healthy Mason bee house going in no time. This translates into a healthier garden and homestead… which is something you’ll need should the undead ever come knocking at your door.
- Mason bees need holes about 1/4 of an inch in diameter for nesting.
- Only use natural and non-chemically treated woods and woody materials. This can be anything from heat-treated pallets to tree limbs, stumps, driftwood, reeds, and other similar materials.
- Drill 20 to 40 holes 3-5 inches deep and spaced roughly 1 inch apart into the material (too many holes and the bees wont be able to find their homes). This can be done in grid-like formations or at random. Do not penetrate THROUGH the material. It’s important to leave a solid backing.
- Angle the holes slightly downward. This helps prevent moisture from getting in and allows whatever does to drain back out again.
- Adding a small overhang, can help reduce moisture further. This is an important step in damp and rainy climates. It will help prevent rot and protect the bees.
- Secure the Mason Bee House to a nice solid post or structure so it doesn’t sway and rock in the wind and heavy weather.
That’s about it. Nice and simple, right? A quick search on the internet will show you thousands of designs for DIY Mason Bee Homes, or you can make one up for yourself. Modify and retrofit as needed for your home or garden, and enjoy the company of your pollinating friends.
Mason Bee Breeding Seasons: Mason bees emerge in spring, when the weather is warm and not too wet. The females lay eggs and enclose the structures with mud to protect their larva. By summer’s end, the larva will spin a cocoon, pupate, then hibernate in adult form until the following spring.
Mason bees can handle extreme cold for long periods of time, so even if you’re dealing with a deep Canadian winter, you might try this method in the spring.