By Erin Huffstetler | 03/01/2016 | No Comments
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Native bees are fantastic pollinators, but they can also be fantastic pests. Let’s look at some ways to manage native bee populations, so you enjoy their presence in your garden.
If you have fruit trees or fruit bushes in your yard, you want to attract as many mason bees as you can. These teeny tiny bees come out early in the spring (well before other bees), and they successfully pollinate 95% of the flowers that they visit. Honey bees only manage to pollinate 5%.
And since mason bees visit twice as many flowers in a day, it’s not hard to see why lots of farmers are switching to mason bees for their pollination needs.
Mason bees live all over the U.S. and south Canada, and they’re really easy to attract to your yard. You don’t need any special beekeeping equipment, just a simple mason bee house for them to build their nests in.
Here’s an example of a mason bee house. The females lay their eggs in the holes, and pack them in with mud. Then, the new bees emerge the following spring to mate and pollinate your garden.
It’s really fun to watch them work, and since they rarely sting, you can get up close to watch all the action. We’ve had mason bee houses in our garden for three years, and I still love to watch them.
You can build your own mason bee houses following my instructions here, or you can order them from my shop. We build them out of cedar, so they’ll hold up to many seasons of use.
These great big bees are the ones responsible for boring large holes in your house, deck, fence posts and outbuildings, and though the males can’t sting you, they sure do get aggressive when you get near one of their nests, which makes it hard for you to enjoy your yard, and often scares the kids indoors.
If you’re tired of watching carpenter bees destroy your stuff, you can build a trap to catch them. It’s designed in such a way that it only attracts carpenter bees, so you don’t have to worry about trapping other pollinators. You’ll find my building instructions here, or you can order some from my shop.
Need help with other pests or pollinators? Just leave your question in the comments. I’ll help you, if I can.