Countryside Garden Club kicked off the season in mid-September as worker bees honoring our most proficient pollinators by building bee houses to help conserve our local environment. We were hosted by the generous and crafty Miss Patti, on a beautiful fall morning nestled in nature.
We engaged in our annual organizational meeting preceded by feasting on miniature morning breakfast treats and then given the lovely task of building bee boxes.
Our bee boxes were constructed to help our local mason bee friends. Mason bees are disappearing in our environments due to the misuse of herbicides and pesticides; providing shelter for them helps encourage and increase their population. Mason bees are solitary bees. They are “solitary,” meaning that every female mason bee is a queen. Which in turn means there are no worker bees, therefore every queen makes her own nest. Their nests are round, hollow shelters roughly the diameter of a pencil. We used old bamboo to simulate the hollow structures they need, and gently pushed them into a wooden box or a recycled soup can mounted on a piece of wood. Bill also constructed another type of bee box by drilling holes into blocks of wood and creating a specialized home. We had three homes to offer our bee friends the upper class, middle class or lower class model a funny categorization quoted by our member Barbara and she is right we have something for every bee’s possible socioeconomic environment:)
Mason bees are not destructive insects. They only use holes found in nature or provided by man.
“Mud bees” is another name used to identify a mason bee because they partition and seal their nesting chambers with mud. Sometimes they are called “twig bees” for adopting hollow twigs as their nesting chamber.
Mason bees are often confused with house flies, as they look like a blue housefly. By listening to the sound of these animals you can distinguish whether it is a bee or a fly. The house flies make a humming sound, while mason bees make a buzzing sound.
Mason bees are gentle creatures; non-aggressive pollinators. Only the female stings when she faces serious danger. Her sting is similar to a mosquito bite.
Here are a few tips for hanging your bee house:
Hang in early Spring when the bees are preparing to return to our environment.
You want your bee house to have an overhang to protect the developing bees inside the tubes, if your box does not have an overhang you will need to hang it where an overhang will be produced such as under a deck or dense tree branch.
– Choose a spot with bright morning sun. This helps them get up and moving in the morning. I’m sure you probably don’t like to get out from under the covers when it’s cold in the morning, correct? Then you have something in common with these bees!
– Hang the house at approximately eye level to keep animals from disturbing it and so you can easily observe the bees if you want to.
– Hang the house on a secure spot, like a wall or post, or as mentioned above to keep the house from moving around too much. You can hang it on a wooden fence, too- but try not to hang it near any doors that will be swinging shut and rattling the bee house around. Also try not to have it in an area where it is extremely windy. I plan to hang mine under a railing section of our deck that is exposed to sun.
The next time you are looking for a environmentally inspired craft think about building a bee box and you can also help by refraining from using harmful chemicals in your garden and by providing habitat for these charming little creatures.
“Bee” Good, “Bee” Kind, “Bee” Helpful to our Bee Friends.
Thanks Countryside for starting our year out “Beeing” good stewards to our local environment.