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.
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.
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.
In the spring, female mason bees protect each nesting chamber with a wall of clayey mud. They're named after masons for a good reason and they're picky about the mud they need. 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.
Setting Out Spring Mason Bee Cocoons Releasing, or setting out, spring mason bee cocoons is easy and there are a few guidelines that you should follow to keep the bees happy and healthy. Remember that mason bees need morning sun, open blooms, and nearby clayey mud to nest!
Native hole-nesting bees, just like any creature, have their own set of diseases and pests that, when left unchecked, can harm or kill them. Nesting holes should be opened once a year to remove diseases like chalkbrood (a deadly fungal infection) and pests like pollen mites (they eat the pollen loaf before the larvae can). At the very least, fresh nesting holes should be provided every year.
It's the time of year to talk about the bees and the bees! Even though the world is home to a huge diversity of bee species, they all share a common feature - mother bees are able to choose the sex of each egg! Learn how sex determination works and why we all need to avoid neonic pesticides.
Follow the story of the construction of a bee hotel! Using donated materials from local residents, Cornell Cooperative Extension in Schuyler County is building an educational pollinator hotel in their garden. The hotel will be located in a teaching garden open to the public, where members of the community can pass by and grab a flyer or read about the bees.
To celebrate National Pollinator Week 2017, Crown Bees featured the work of researchers that are studying native bees across the country. Many of the researchers sourced nesting materials or hole-nesting bee cocoons from Crown Bees.