After months of anticipation, this weekend I decided it was time to hang out the mason bees. These tiny,
non-stinging native bees are the earliest pollinators around here. (correction: mason bees *can* sting, but they rarely do, unless you step on them or squeeze them, and then maybe you deserve it?) They’re only active for a few months – usually March, April, May, and barely into June – but they play a really critical role before all the other pollinator species reach critical mass in the spring.
It’s been unseasonably warm, and all the plum and cherry trees appear to be blooming. Even though it’s technically still winter for another three weeks, I’m hoping we avoid more solid cold freezes. (isn’t everyone?) Our last freeze date is technically Mother’s Day – seems like that is a million years in the future. It’s a good thing, too, because I haven’t started a single seed yet.
I pulled the bees out of the fridge where they’ve been sleeping for the past few months. They are packed in cocoons, which are protected by the walls of mud their mother built last summer back when they lived in Oregon, before they were delivered to me in the mail. This keeps them safe from a variety of things, predators, extreme weather, forgotten leftover food growing colonies of aliens in the back of our fridge, etc.
I nestled the straws of cocoons into the Royal House. This will keep them fairly well protected and dry until they break out of the mud walls.
I had a little help from the Chihuahua division of the Mason Bee Inspector Society. She hates it when I put her on top of the rain barrel, can you tell?
I attached the adorable yellow front, which protects from predators like wood peckers. Then I hung the Royal House a little above my head, so we can see the bees coming and going. Now, we wait for them to come out, start pollinating, and create the next generation of bees.