Pollinator Week 2018

Pollinator Week 2018

Pollinator Week June 18-24, 2018

National Pollinator Week celebrates and raises awareness of insect and animal pollinators and how to support them. To celebrate this year, we are sharing a series of educational informative graphics, each teaching a concept or fun fact related to our native hole-nesting bees.

Many people are not aware of our native bees and our goal is to make native bees just as popular and well-known as the sophisticated honey bee, who came from Europe.

While we focus on native hole-nesting bees, we are supportive of helping all bees thrive. An easy and effective way to help all pollinators is to reduce and avoid lawn chemicals. Chemicals can not only kill bees, they can also deter our native bees from nesting in and visiting our yards. Raising native hole-nesting bees, who don't fly very far from their bee home every day, helps us view and manage our gardens differently.

Get to Know the Look of Bees

Not all bees have black and yellow stripes

There is actually a huge diversity of bees and they come in many sizes, shapes, and colors. The world is home to 21,000 scientifically named species. Some bee species are bright green, purple, or dark blue like our spring mason bee.

This is a female mason bee visiting a blueberry flower. Bees, ants, and wasps are close relatives. Bees have long, thin antennae and they fold their wings against their bodies while resting.

After you get to know the features that all bees share, you will start to notice all of the different bees visiting flowers.

Instead of Honey

Only honey bees make honey

Social bees use honey to feed themselves over the winter. In social bees, the queen lays eggs throughout the year. In solitary bees, there is no queen and no need for honey. 

Instead of honey, each solitary bee egg is provided all the pollen and nectar it will need to grow into an adult bee. Each egg is sealed within its nesting chamber and left to develop The solitary bee egg hatches and eats its entire pollen loaf. 

Pollen is high in protein, vitamins, and some fat while nectar is high in carbohydrates.


Grow Native Plants for Native Bees 

Native plants are better feeders for bees

Over millions of years, flowering plants and bees have evolved together, changing each other in a long-term symbiotic relationship. Native plants produce more nectar and pollen for bees and this makes native plants 4-5 times more attractive to bees than cultivated, hybridized, or even introduced plants.

Each native plant can also be a host plant for multiple pollinator species. Trailing blackberry, native to the Pacific NW, is a host plant for four different kinds of butterflies. 

Many native bees are specialists who can't survive without their native flowers. Grow native plants and create an oasis in your garden.

Harvest Cocoons to Ensure Bee Health

Learn how to raise bees right

Like any creature, hole-nesting bees in your bee house or bee hotel have their own diseases and pests. Three common problems for mason bees are chalkbrood - a deadly fungal infection, pollen mites - they eat the pollen loaf before the bee larva can, and parasitic wasps - tiny wasps who attack developing larvae.

To harvest cocoons, simply open your nesting holes to remove healthy cocoons and leave diseases and pests behind. Use nesting holes that can be easily opened and cleaned or replaced with fresh nesting holes every year. 

Harvest your mason bee cocoons in the fall and harvest leafcutter cocoons in the early spring. Sign up for BeeMail and we'll teach you how to raise bees throughout the year.