Thursday, February 16, 2012

In Which We Have Bees

I have a box of bees in my refrigerator right now.

Well, that's not entirely accurate.  I actually have two boxes of bees in my fridge right now.

While Connor was in school today I drove down to Portland Avenue Nursery, spurred on by my ongoing I Need To Plant Things Now craze.  They had a bunch of dwarf conifers on sale for 50% off, and I have a whole huge section of front yard to plant where we had all that ivy yanked out last summer.  I made a start on it last year, but there's a lot of flower bed to cover.  Connor and Jeremy both have a four-day weekend because of President's Day, and even though it's raining I intend to get as much outside work done as I possibly can.

But back to the bees.

So I was inside the little store portion of the nursery where they keep all their bulbs, seeds and statuary, and they had a whole section devoted to mason bees.  Mason bees, for those of you not familiar with them, are native, solitary, non-aggressive bees that don't produce honey but are major workhorses for pollination-- far more efficient than honey bees.  They require practically no maintenance-- you just harvest the cocoons once a year in mid-summer and store them until early the next spring to keep them healthy and pest free. 

Of course, they don't produce tasty sweetener for my tea either, so there's that.  I would keep honey bees in a second if I had the time and if I thought my neighbors would approve the idea, neither of which is going to happen any time soon.  Maybe someday!

Anyway, I've been wanting to get a mason bee house for ages, but until now I haven't had the opportunity.  We rented our living space for our first four years in the Pacific Northwest, and when we moved in there weren't any flowers for the bees to pollinate, as our yard consisted entirely of wildly overgrown shrubs and knee-high grass.  But I've put in quite a few spring blooming plants now, so I decided that we're ready to hang our own little bee house. 

So I bought the little house, and the tubes for the bees to nest in, and a couple of tiny cardboard boxes of western orchard mason bee cocoons, which will be stored in my fridge until I have their home all set up and am ready to set them out to hatch.

Hooray for bees!



Julia O'C said...

Wow - you've been as a busy as a....


I wondered what all of the buzz was about.

Happy Bee Keeping!! What a cool new adventure.

maggiemagillicuty said...

What a neat idea! I wonder if they are native to Ohio....

Dave said...

I'm pleased to see that you and Conner are going to raise mason bees. Please do me a favor and sign up for Bee-Mail on our website. It's designed to help you know when to do what.

Helping you be successful has me reaching out to you in 5 years trading your excess cocoons for free reeds/tubes. These excess cocoons will then be used in commercial orchard when the honey bees (unfortunately) may not be as plentiful.

Thanks for the link!

Dave said...

And no, maggiemagillicuty, the bees that Jess has are native to the west coast. However, Crown Bees does have the hornfaced that is native to eastern states. :) You'll want to order these quickly as our supplies are diminishing.

Fiona said...

What an interesting project.
I love bees.

Blog Directory