Pollinator 2.0

Nature's pollinators on the decline. Without getting into detail about why that is or what it implies, I'll focus here on our own pollination concerns -- in particular, the greenhouse.

We've always taken extra precautions to ensure the greenhouse inhabitants get their chance to share their individual DNA in two ways -- first by placing colourful flowers inside to lure in flying insects to do their thing, and secondly by doing the deed ourselves. For some plants, just shaking them up a bit is enough to spread the love, but, as backup, I use this specialized instrument as well (we'll call it Pollinator version 1.0) ...

This year, My Guy suggested we take it a step further by installing our own little colony of mason bees in the yard. He whipped up this cosy little shelter for them:

We bought the paper tubes they like to nest in:

Finally, we bought some sleeping bees, nestled in their cocoons, waiting for warmer weather (warmer than the refrigerator crisper anyway), and set them out on a warm day.

Now we let them do their magic.

Everything you wanted to know about mason bees but were afraid to ask:
  • they are also called Orchard bees and they look a lot like houseflies, but they have longish antennae which distinguish them from their pesky look-a-likes.
  • they are docile and non-social -- which doesn't mean they won't invite you for tea. It means they don't have a queen or a hive to protect, and therefore they rarely sting. Even if they do, it's mild, like a mosquito bite.
  • they work alone and each nests in its own pheromone-identified tube, but they like to live in groups, apartment-style.
  • they are called mason bees because they use mud to plug up their little tubes where they place their eggs and hibernate.
  • the males are identifiable by their little white beard... isn't that cute?
For more on mason bees, start with Westcoast Seeds, or with David Suzuki, or ask at your local nursery.


  1. Older sister of your man6 April 2013 at 10:08

    You put a shingle roof on the mason bee house! How cute. Did you affix their home to the side of your shed? Just wondering where it is in relation to the greenhouse....

    I know they aren't social, but maybe they'd go out flying with a quad-copter someday. They could do aerobatics and such :)

    1. the bee house is attached to the fence directly across from the door to the greenhouse -- which we keep open when the weather is warm. We will be planting veggies in the garden patch below the house as well.
      I'm sure the quad-copter would love the company.

  2. Older sister of your man7 April 2013 at 18:20

    Do you think it is too late in the season to install a mason bee house here?

    Can you tell I wanna be your "Mini Me"? :)

  3. Yup, there's time. Much of what we read said to put them out in March, but when I bought more at the nursery the other day (they come in boxes of 10)I was advised to wait until there is lots blooming in the yard for them to eat before setting them out. I'm keeping my second batch in the crisper for awhile.


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