Raising spring mason bees is a growing trend among backyards across the country.
Recently, local news station King 5 visited Crown Bees headquarters to learn about our mason bees and how they are a part of a novel garden to farm to table movement. Backyard gardeners can raise mason bees and send their extra cocoons back to Crown Bees, who will then share the cocoons with farms and orchards.
Although the mason bee raising trend started in the Pacific Northwest, gardeners across the country can participate. Blue orchard mason bees (Osmia lignaria) are native across North America. Besides flowering trees, shrubs, and plants, they need healthy nesting habitats and a source of moist clayey mud, which can easily be provided by gardeners and farmers.
Dave Hunter estimates that our agricultural system needs about 1.5 billion bee cocoons and every mason bee cocoon helps Crown Bees reach that goal. Mason bees are at least 100 times more effective pollinators than honey bees and adding mason bees to a farm can increase crop yield by about 25%
Crown Bees is also on a mission to find and raise our wild hole-nesting bees. In early 2018, Crown Bees launched the Native Bee Network, a nation-wide citizen science program that provides healthy nesting sites and monitors wild bee populations. The aim of the Native Bee Network is to learn how to raise and support our super-pollinating wild bees. Including mason bees and other native bees in our pollination plans will save our future food supply.