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Orchard Mason Bees

The apple blossoms are opening! It’s a wonderful time! Of course, we hope that all danger of frost is past, but we still have about 3 more weeks when we could have a frost. BUT – the apple trees seem to think all danger is past.

The Orchard Mason Bees are out in full force now, too.

These tiny pollinators are gentle and work hard. We want them to pollinate those apple blossoms!

I didn’t take photos, but while the little Mason bees were busy at work in the garden, Don was cleaning out their little boxes. We’ve been providing housing for mason bees since we moved in to this house, and there is a little bit of maintenance to be done to the boxes on occasion: new straws, making certain no parasites have gotten in, adding more boxes.

This year, Don took the boxes apart and discovered that something had gotten into the tubes, so everything had to be scrubbed and washed (we used 1 part bleach:10 parts water, the same ratio as for cleaning bird feeder). When everything is dry, he’ll put the boxes back together, insert the straws and the Mason bees will come.

Just look how hard working the little bees are.

Wait. That’s a dandelion. We don’t want the dandelions pollinated.

Bad Mason bee, bad.

Keeping Orchard Mason bees is simple. You can purchase all the supplies online or at local nurseries (in the Portland Metro area: check your own area for availability) and at many bird shops. It is too late now to purchase the bee larvae (late February is the best time), but if you have Mason bees already in your area, just providing the nesting habitat helps. All they want is a cavity somewhere.

They are easy to research, easy to keep, and there’s very little worry about bee stings. A Mason bee sting feels more like a mosquito bite (I have been stung, but only when I actually squashed one accidentally). Honey bees (which are very gentle) are more aggressive than Mason bees.

Look into it! We love our little busy bees!

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