Mason Bees – Our Native Pollinators

Many people have seen them, without realizing their significance: small, black insects feeding on flowering shrubs. These stingless bees can help pollinate your plants, something needed more and more as European Honeybee populations decline in the Pacific Northwest.

DECLINING BEE POPULATIONS MEANS PLANTS AREN’T POLLINATED: One of the modern worries of city and suburban life are the declining populations of wildlife.  There are fewer birds, fewer reptiles, and most certainly, fewer insects.  While we “spray away” insects we consider pests, we also do damage to beneficial populations of insects – insects we rely on for plant pollination.
OUR NATIVE ORCHARD MASON BEES ARE CHAMPION POLLINATORS:Many people have seen them, without realizing their significance:  small, black insects feeding on flowering shrubs.  You may see a “mason bee” and mistake it for a large, black fly.

BBlocka3_thumbOrchard Mason Bees are the “perfect urban pollinator,” according to Brian L. Griffin, author of The Orchard Mason Bee:

1. They’re entirely non-aggressive.  They simply will not attack, singly or en-masse.
2. You won’t even know they’re around unless you stand and watch a nesting block.
3. They’re easy to keep in your yard from year to year.  All you do is provide the bee with holes in which to nest and blossoms from which to dine.
4. They’re much more efficient pollinators than the honey bee.
5. They propagate in the smallest of back yards, and they’re fun and fascinating to watch.

FEBRUARY –  MARCH IS THE IDEAL TIME TO START A COLONY OF “MASON BEES”, AND WE CAN HELP YOU DO IT: Orchard Mason Bees thrive in our cool, damp climate – even working in light rain (like any self-respecting Northwest gardener).  At the first hint of spring, our native bees emerge from their winter slumber.  February or early March is the ideal time of year to hang a Mason Bee Nest Block on a fence, the side of a building, or on a tree.  Backyard Bird Shop has a great selection of nest blocks to make it easy for you to invite these native bees to nest in your yard.  And, at the right time of year, you can come to us for live, hibernating Mason Bees to help you jump-start your own colony of mason bees!