BeeHouse1And now, for a non-lambing subject! I recently bought a mason bee house, in hopes of helping along our fruit tree pollination this year. I saw a nice house at a convention, and weighed the hefty craftsperson price against the likelihood that I would find time to make my own, albeit as simple as they are. I opted to just get one.

I was a little annoyed when I got home to realize that it did not come with actual mason bee larvae, I had assumed it would, since many kits do. So then I felt like I really overpaid. Smile with tongue out But that’s ok, I’m sure the beekeeper who made it isn’t making millions.

This house has a fun feature in that a few of the “straws” are clear plastic tubes, so we can view the bees masonry handiwork. ClearStraws

Mason bees are native to almost everywhere, so even putting out an empty house should attract them to hang around and pollinate our trees while they are populating the house with eggs. And then over the years, we are supposed to bring the larvae in each fall, to protect them from predators, and help the little bee population along. In the spring, you put the larvae into the “attic”:


And when they hatch, they crawl out the hole in the side:


I stained the house and attached it to a tree. The kit came with more straws than would fit in the house, so I piled those into an empty milk carton below. The beekeeper advised to fill the house with some straw, to make it easier for the bees to see and remember which straw they’d chosen. Apparently if there is just a big geographic grid of straws, it’s too confusing to them. Straws

I hung the house on a tree facing southeast. It is near some ground springs that stay muddy and wet even in summer, so they have material with which to work. Let the nesting begin!