Having our new large yard, we wanted to strive to support the local ecosystems and also increase our garden and eight very mature blueberry bush yields. We set off to learn the best way to attract native pollinators by providing a good habitat for them.
We had noticed that we had some little mason bees. There was a tiny hole in one of the outside beams that the painters missed filling. It probably had been for a screw of some sort at one time. In the wild, mason bees lay their eggs in small natural cavities such as these. Because mason bees are unable to excavate their own nesting cavities, they seem to be quite happy to use whatever location is suitable. Soon we noticed it was covered in mud.
We didn’t know much about mason bees. They are non-stinging bees, smaller than a honeybee. They are a type of native bee that’s quite common throughout most of the U.S. Typically they are metallic blue or blue-black in color.
We started seeing Mason bee and Butterfly houses at all of the garden stores. So we bought one. Apparently the optimal location to hang your mason bee house is 6 to 7 feet off the ground, preferably under an eave. And we had the ideal spot to hang it. Under the eave of the new gardening shed.
It’s also important to make sure your bees have the right nesting materials available to seal up their development chambers inside the tubes. Mason bees require mud with a heavy clay texture. And this was also available right next to the shed. Plus there were a number of nice plants around the area as well.
We plan to plant some butterfly weed along the fence just behind where the bee and butterfly house is located. I am not sure the butterflies will actually use the house too, but it’s a nice idea.
What we learned is that the mason bees have a very short season where they build their nest, and we missed the window because we were painting the roof of their new house.
But we’ll be ready for next year! In the mean time, the other bees seem to be plentiful in the yard.