Mason Bee Homes

According to University of Maine Cooperative Extension, “bees are ‘keystone organisms’ in most terrestrial ecosystems. Bees are essential for maintaining the integrity, productivity and sustainability of many types of ecosystems: the forest understory, pastures, fields, meadows, roadsides, many agricultural crops, fruit orchards, and backyard vegetable and flower gardens. Without bees, many flowering plants would eventually become extinct. Without the work of bees, many fruit- and seed-eating birds and some mammals, including people, would have a less varied and less healthy diet.”

The Orchard Mason Bee is the common name of a nonsocial native bee that pollinates our spring fruit trees, flowers and vegetables. It is gentle, does not sting, and does not live in hives because it does not produce honey. In nature it nests within hollow stems, woodpecker drillings and insect holes found in trees or wood scraps. They are excellent at enhancing our yards and gardens but they are only present during a small part of the year.

To help these bees (and the pollination of our fruits/vegetables/trees), many gardeners have begun making bee homes in their backyard. Bee homes are great because they provide cover and a safe place for mason bees to raise their young. They can be purchased from different vendors or you can just make them!

There are many different types of bee homes. Here is an instructional video and written directions on how to build one type. Or, for an even easier way: baked beans, bamboo and bees.

I’m in the process of making my own bee home out of bamboo and scrap wood. Pics to come soon! Also, garden update: went to my local nursery and they are in between shipments of new seed. Hope to get out to King Feed this afternoon (work permitting) and have my seeds planted by this evening!