Midwinter Merriment: Rent Mason Bees!

Here it is – a countdown til spring. From now until the first day of spring, I will post ways to make the dreary days of midwinter a little more merry.

Day 2: Rent some mason bees.

mason_bee_flowerOrchard Mason bees are not what you think. They don’t produce honey. They don’t live in a hive. You don’t wear a veil to tend to them. They are hardcore pollinators. I heard somewhere that 250 female mason bees could pollinate the same acre it would take one hive of honey bees (30 to 40, 000 bees) to pollinate. That is no joke.

Mason bees are native to North America. They don’t have honey or large quantities of eggs to defend, so they are not aggressive. They are also short-lived, emerging in March and ending their life cycle by June. Mason bees are in their prime when fruit and berries are blooming. So, if you have fruit trees on your property, mason bees might be your answer for optimum pollination!

mason_bee_houseOrchard mason bees are wood dwellers, nesting in naturally occurring holes in wood like those created by woodpeckers. However, the urban gardener like me, with no big trees or woodpeckers to be found, can still provide a home for mason bees. I’ve heard that if you build it, they will come. Put out a mason bee house or create your own and they will find you. I haven’t tried that route yet.

Alternatively, you can get some help from a local mason bee champion and support a local business with mason Bee rentals! The process is simple. Place a reservation for a mason bee kit (here) and you’ll receive an email shortly from mason bee expert, Missy Anderson (a.k.a. The Queen Bee), letting you know when your kit is ready and the bees are ready to emerge. Place the kit in your yard, let the mason bees do their work during the spring, and enjoy the fruits of their labor! Then, after the mason bees have nested again and the season is over, you return the kit and she’ll take care of them the rest of the year! Of course, over time, you might find that caring for them is something you can easily do on your own, but this service is certainly an awesome way to get started and experience first-hand what it’s like to have mason bees on your urban farm.

For more information on mason bees, read this article written by the Queen Bee herself.

*Mason bee house image from here
*Mason bee on a flower image from here

Day 3: Get gardening in a gutter in just two hours!
Day 4: Look at pictures of your summer garden. 
Day 5: Break up your garden to-do list. 
Day 6: Plant sale time
Day 7: Throw a Pi Party!
Day 8: Celebrate a milestone.
Day 9: Put a little summer on your pancakes.
Day 10: Feed your soil.
Day 11: Chicken gawking.
Day 12: Plant identification with kids.
Day 13: Plant your backyard berry patch.
Day 14: #dirtonmyiPhone
Day 15: Start seeds indoors.
Day 16: Sew a sassy garden tool belt.
Day 17: A class that keeps on giving!
Day 18: Buy yourself some flowers.
Day 19: Go to the park and play!
Day 20: Plant peas (and sign up for my free newsletter!)
Day 21: Take a gardening class.
Day 22:Plant bare root.
Day 23: Sign up for Seattle Seedling’s Spring Fling!
Day 24: Plant primroses.
Day 25: Get yourself a doughnut and make it “for here.”
Day 26: Frequent the Farmers’ Market
Day 27: Eat Root Vegetables Disguised as Cake!
Day 28: Be a Garden Show Goer.
Day 29: Drink more hot chocolate.
Day 30: Create a springtime “advent” calendar.

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