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My solitary play-day!

Posted by docmom z5 MI (My Page) on
Sun, Apr 6, 14 at 12:26

Due to a rare set of circumstances, I have my house to myself for today. My husband is driving to Iowa and all of my teenagers have found somewhere else to lay there heads for the first weekend of spring break. So, I'm spoiling myself with spring/gardening activities.

I transplanted my 20 Tropical milkweed seedlings into larger containers. I wintersowed 8 milk jugs of Zinnias. I picked up fallen branches and twigs, and peeked at the tiny green sprouts at the base of a few early perennials. Now I'm going to make a "Mason Bee House" out of rolled brown paper bag. Mason Bees are one of many solitary, native North American bees which have been pollinating native plants and crops since before the honeybee was introduced from Europe. But, they are threatened, as so many insects are, from loss of habitat and nesting sites. They nest in holes left by woodpeckers, rodents, or beetles, or in hollow reeds. So, we can help by providing drilled blocks of wood or piles of hollow tubes hung in protected but sunny spots near blossoming plants. Because these bees are solitary, they are not aggressive and many cannot sting, and they are more efficient pollinators than honeybees because they gather pollen, not just nectar. They also fly in colder weather and less sunshine than honeybees, so are working longer hours.

Anyone interested in learning more can search "Mason Bees" or "The Xerces Society." I think I spelled that correctly. Have a beautiful spring day!


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: My solitary play-day!

Hi Martha!
I just bought a mason bee house. Haven't put it up yet. I'm trying to figure out the best location for it. I hope the woodpeckers leave it alone.
Have fun by yourself today!

RE: My solitary play-day!

Let me know how you like your Mason Bee house. I keep looking at different designs and trying to decide which seem most user friendly. Are you planning to harvest the cocoons in autumn, or leave them out all year?


RE: My solitary play-day!

It's good to hear you had a fun gardening weekend!

I'm not even sure mason bees exist down here, so I'll look it up. Bumble bees, which are EVERYWHERE here, pollinate flowers. On my property, I leave a certain amount of dead trees (Hurricane Katrina provided plenty of those) and I've seen for myself how many critters use old woodpecker holes, so I know how beneficial dead trees and branches can be.


RE: My solitary play-day!

Interesting bee house; I had to check if we have those bees here, but we don't. Our native bees use holes in the ground. I noticed that our Bumblebees, and other native bee populations, took a big hit last year--numbers are way down. I read recently that the collapse experienced by the European honeybee has now spread to the native population. That is terrible news.

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