Bees are essential for pollination. When bees travel from flower to flower, their hairy bodies retain pollen and promote successful fertilization. For crops such as almonds and apples, flowers rely almost exclusively on pollinators. Without bees, almonds would be almost impossible to find at the grocery store, and something else would be 'as American' as Apple pie. This block makes a perfect home for native Mason bees. The Mason bee ranged throughout the New World 400 years ago, but they are under attack by human activity. Settlers paved large areas of their natural habitat and introduced unfamiliar new plants. Native bees are also threatened by European Honey Bees and Africanized Honey Bees. Those Old World bees form swarms and are able to overwhelm Mason bees. The invasive bees also carry diseases and parasites that indigenous bees are vulnerable to. Installing a bee block in your garden is one way to bring back the bees. You can put out a welcome mat for native bees and restore a tiny piece of their natural habitat! Each block is made from reclaimed wood and precision drilled with holes that are 5/16th of an inch in diameter. These holes are the ideal size for several types of wild bee, including Mason Bees, Blueberry Bees, and Hornfaced Bees. Unlike honey bees, these bees don't need a large nest. Mason bees are solitary in nature, and they don't make honey. They are excellent spring season pollinators and thrive even in areas with cold weather. Since there's no honey in their nests and they live alone, Mason bees don't exhibit the aggressive stinging behavior of other bees. Mason Bees make excellent garden pets for two reasons: they help produce large crops and they prefer to run away instead of stinging your family. Compared to honey bee hives, a Mason Bee block is much safer for children and pets. If you're strongly allergic to bee stings, it's important to still exercise caution. Orchard Mason Bees are also more efficient pollinators than European Honey Bees. It takes fewer than 500 Mason Bees to pollinate an acre of fruit trees - to get that same result with Honey Bees requires up to 120,000 bees! Our Gardening Advice page has even more information on Mason Bees. Mason Bees vs. Honey Bees Mason bees offer several advantages over European Honey Bees. Mason bees are:
- Less likely to sting
- Native to the area, which makes them better suited for xeriscaped yards
- Work in light wind and moderate rain
- Active in colder weather (as cold as 55 degrees fahrenheit), so they work for longer periods of the year
Getting the best results with your bee block The best location for your bee block is on the South or East side of a building (where the morning sun will wake up your bees each day). Your block has a roof on it to protect from sunlight and rain, but you can provide even greater protection by hanging it just below the eaves on your outside walls or placing the block under cover in your patio. Orchard Mason Bees, Alfalfa Leafcutter Bees, Horn faced Bees, and other bees prefer to feed on a mixed variety of native plants. If your garden has plenty of local wildflowers, you can count on buzzing visitors. For the best results, choose a variety of flowers that have continuous or staggered blooms. That way, the bees never go hungry. Early blooming flowers are especially important, because they feed newly emerged bees and give them energy when they need it to grow. When weeding, beware of herbicides and pesticides. These chemicals can kill mason bees or disrupt their reproductive cycle. Also, consider mowing in the late evening - after your bees have done their work and settled in for the night. Wild bees are a great way to get big results without investing in a complicated hive. Get started in beekeeping the easy way - invite a few Mason Bees to help out in your garden!
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