Becoming a Keeper of the Mason Bees

mason bee keeping

A partnership with pollinators goes far beyond tending to only the honeybees; a sacred ministry of love! Often times when we think of beekeeping it is the beloved honeybees that our minds travel to and they are priceless! Did you know though that there are many different types of winged creatures contributing to the endless work of pollinating?!!?

Osmia Lignaria, known as the Mason Bees are one of those precious creatures and these solitary bees contribute a lot! They pollinate as much as 150 Honeybees do! Mason Bee’s have short life-spans and they devote their time to the act of pollinating and reproducing. These bees are of an independent mind-set and do not swarm together, however they do prefer to nest near one another. In nature they find nesting holes, tubular spaces which are deep enough and also provides them with shelter from the elements. They use these nesting holes as a space to pro-create for the next seasons need of pollination.

Unfortunately, pollen mites have gotten out of control, as we bee-conscious folks have become familiar with the problem that the mites have had on the Honeybees, it is also a problem for the Mason Bee’s too. Human’s can partner with the bees as helpers. We have an opportunity to choose to partake in the keeping of the bees, as a ministry of love! As pastoralists of the past and present have tended to nature in order to contribute to balance and living in a manner of give and take; it is time to take heed to that “ancient” wisdom and so often forgotten mindset and once again marry our efforts in symbiosis with the life that is all around us!

One way in which we can do this is by providing safe havens for these spectacular pollinators! I have burned the midnight oil, spending endless hours reading about these creatures and researching ways in which I could provide a healthy home for them to dwell. One factor that is very important if one chooses to become a keeper of the bees, is to give Mason Bee’s clean tube-like holes to live in. In nature, Mason Bee’s if possible will avoid making habitats out of previously used holes. The reason for this is that when a Mason Bee flies around each day doing the work of pollinating these gentle loves will roll around in the pollen, love-drunk in the bed of a flower and as they are doing this the pollen mites will attach to the bees and then be taken home with them. As the bees start planting their eggs into the nesting tubes, during the hibernation state of the larvae, the vulnerability of this stage puts the baby bees at risk as the pollen mites can eat the bees and disrupt the reproductive cycle.

Keeping Mason Bee’s is an act of kindness, and it also goes along with the nature of give and take. We provide them a safe haven and they also give back by pollinating our gardens, flowers, orchards and so forth. As we know, they are valiant pollinators, and they tend to stay very close to home, approximately 100 yards. This creates an environment that will be highly pollinated!! How exciting for gardeners!! Investing in Mason Bee’s is rewarding as they will multiply each year. The land in which they inhabit will be alive with pollination power!! The beautiful thing about these sacred bees is that they are gentle in nature and the possibility of getting stung is very rare, if not at all, in fact the male bees do not even have stingers! All of the females are fertile, therefore there is no queen to protect thus they have no reason to act territorial or aggressive.

What You Need To Become A Mason Beekeeper: 

1) A MASON BEE HOME: There are different options on making your own or purchasing one that is already made. But please be mindful on which home you invest in. Remember that they need fresh tubes every season in order to protect them from over populated pollen mite growth and other parasitical issues. I have also perceived that many Mason Bee homes are not deep enough, it is important that the holes are at the very least 5 to 6 inches deep. If you have a home that does not provide you with fresh tube inserts, then be prepared to clean out the holes each year to aid in the health of the bees. My husband and I have partnered in creating Mason Bee Haven’s with the safety of the bees in mind. We have mind fully created an original design that is both aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound, please feel free to take a look, you can purchase them at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/EarthState

2) POLLEN: Pollen is their food source, without it they will not find your Mason Bee home suitable. Therefore it is important to plant various bee friendly flowers, gardens, and they also love fruit trees and are powerhouses for pollinating those fruit tree flower buds!!

3) MUD: Mason Bee’s are named after their work with mud. They need to have access to a clay-like mud source in which to build their homes with inside of the nesting tubes. The simple solution to this is to provide a small bowl very near the Mason Bee homes and have mud that you keep moist in the bowls; this will help to attract them.

These 3 necessities will get you started!

Happy Bee-Keeping to you!

– Jenny Rose

Shop for Mason Bee Houses at: www.etsy.com/shop/EarthState

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