Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Friends the Mason Bees

Every spring I am visited by Mason Bees. On a mission of utmost importance, they investigate the nail holes on the side of my house, the small holes on the underside of the table on the deck, the hollow legs on the old bird cage that hangs above our patio, and anything else they can find that might suit their egg laying needs. Mason Bees are small, fuzzy bees that lay their eggs in holes that are approximately 5/16ths of an inch in diameter. Once they have filled the hole with eggs, they pack it with mud. Over the years, they have found the strangest places for doing this. Above is one such example, the fuel hole on Sam's Fischer Price garage. A few years ago they filled every hole on a multi-plug extension cord that had been left outside.

This year, they discovered the oh so convenient empty frames of comb that were stacked in boxes in front of the house. I was so confused when I discovered that they had started laying eggs in this comb. Here I am, trying to raise honeybees, and another, equally wonderful creature moves in and co opts the equipment. There was no way I could choose one over the other, but I could not stand by and just let the Mason Bees spread the word about what they had found.

So I decided to sacrifice a handful of frames for the Mason Bee cause and quickly constructed an improvised Mason Bee home on the opposite side of the house from where the honeybee equipment is stored.

If you are interested in providing a cheap and easy home for the Mason Bees, take a log and drill rows and rows of 5/16 inch holes in it. Hang it from a tree or on the side of your house and see what happens. Unlike Carpenter Bees, Mason Bees don't make holes in wood, they just use existing ones, so you don't have to worry about them damaging your house.