Bee Friendly and Support Your Local Mason Bee Population
When we talk about keeping Bees, most people automatically think of Honey Bees. Honey Bees are super beneficial, they’re great pollinators for your garden and they make honey! Unfortunately, the commitment to keeping up with a Honey Bee hive can be daunting to some people, plus the cost of buying a hive or hives and bee keeping equipment, can be expensive. If your main concern is helping Bees by giving them a habitat, and getting a little something in return, like pollination for your garden, Mason Bees are the perfect choice.
Unlike the European Honey Bee, which most of us are familiar with, Mason Bees are native to the US. They’re found wild mostly throughout the entire US.
Mason Bees are solitary, meaning that they don’t live in colonies like some other types of bees. They seek out holes or tunnels that have been created by wood boring insects. They live and lay their eggs there. The female Mason Bee is already fertile. She collects pollen and nectar from nearby flowers and builds it up in the rear of the nest. She then lays an egg in the nectar and pollen “bed” and covers it with mud. She repeats this until the tunnel is full, and then moves on to another nest or tunnel.
Mason Bees are docile. Male Mason Bees don’t even have a stinger. Females only sting if squeezed or stepped on, so they’re safe to be around children and pets.
One of the biggest benefits of having Mason Bees in your garden is that they’re the ultimate pollinator! Pollination is necessary for plants to survive. Some plants have the ability to self-pollinate, but others rely on bees for pollination. In fact, two thirds of food crops need bees for pollination – some examples are almonds, squash, cucumbers, apples, oranges, blueberries, and peaches. Can you imagine a world without peaches!?
Unfortunately, bees are being poisoned by toxic pesticides that are widely used by commercial and even home agriculture. Neonic pesticides (neonicotinoids) have been linked to global bee declines. Beekeepers have lost an average of 30% of their hives in recent years. Some have lost all their hives and subsequently left the business.
This is obviously very concerning, not only due to environmental impacts, but the economical impacts would also be detrimental. Bees contribute over $20 billion to the U.S. economy and $217 billion to the global economy.
In response to growing bee decline and evidence pointing to neonicotinoids as the culprit, Europe has banned the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on their crops. The USA and Canada need to do the same.
What can you do to help?
- Consider housing bees. The Mason Bee box is a great way to start. Just hang your box outside in an area shielded from wind. We hung ours onto our wooden fence.
- Consider making a bee drinking station. We used smooth beach rocks and the bottom of a planter. This provides much needed water for tired bees. Just wash the stones, and fill with water..use less than pictured here so the bees do not drown!
- Buy organic produce as much as possible. The more we do to increase the demand for organic produce, the less demand there will be for toxic chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
- Help spread the word about harmful neonicotinoids. Our food supply depends on it!
Support the BeeAction Campaign from Friends of the Earth and call on the Obama Administration to immediately ban pesticides linked to global bee declines to protect the nation’s food supply, environment and economy. Learn more about how to helps our bees by visiting their official site (above).