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Download our free mobile device background and wallpapers of native bees by photographer, Karl Alexander.

Today's download: Spring Mason Bee nesting

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One of the many stressors that today's bees face is a loss of flowering habitat.

An easy way to increase and improve habitat is to convert our grass lawns, which to a bee is a food desert, to flowering bee lawns. A bee lawn will attract and feed bees while it saves us time, money, and effort.

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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. 

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Seattle's most unique P-Patch, UpGarden is a community garden at the top of the Mercer St parking garage at the Seattle Center. Learn why bee diversity is vital to a rooftop garden.

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Chances are, your bee hotel or bee house will attract a hole-nesting wild bee.

You might be surprised to find strange cocoons during your mason bee harvest in the fall or leafcutter bee harvest in the spring. We want to help your local bee population thrive - here are our expert tips that can help you understand your bee house guests.

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Blue orchard mason bees (Osmia lignaria) are native bees that are active in the spring and are the perfect pollinators for blueberry fields.

Emerging from their cocoons in the spring, they fly in cooler and wetter weather than honey bees. Instead of living in a hive, mason bees live in pre-made holes and every female bee takes care of her own nest.

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The spring is the best time to harvest leafcutter cocoons and harvesting leafcutter bee cocoons will reduce chalkbrood disease and Pteromalus, a very small parasitic wasp.

Adult leafcutter bees will emerge from the harvested cocoons and because they were allowed to emerge from loose cocoons they will not spread chalkbrood to their nesting materials. Leafcutter bees need the warmth of summer to develop into adult bees and this step is called incubation. Read our tips for harvesting and incubating summer leafcutter bee cocoons.

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Your bee house is set up, the weather is warming, your fruit blooms are open, and your mason bee mud supply is ready – what happens when mason bees start flying?

This stage of raising mason bees is what I like to call Wait & Watch and it’s the best part of raising spring mason bees.

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Wild hole-nesting bees, depending on their season, may start flying soon!

You have two options for taking care of your wild hole-nesting bees. First, you can harvest wild bee cocoons in the early spring, which requires more time and effort but you will be rewarded with getting to know your wild bee guests. The second option requires less time while still providing wild bees with fresh nesting holes each year.

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Mason bees are named after masonry for a reason since female mason bees protect each nesting chamber with a wall of clayey mud.

If mason bees can't find clayey mud nearby their bee house, they simply won't nest and will fly away to find another site. Female mason bees carry a mud ball in their large mandibles (jaws) and they are looking for a mud that they can manipulate.

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