In the Garden: Mason Bees

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EUGENE, Ore. — Every garden needs a pollinator, like the mason bee.

Two or three mason bees can do the same amount of pollination as about 120 honey bees, said Caleb Johnson of Johnson Brothers Greenhouses. The reason for that is honey bees kind of accidentally pollinate. They jump from flower to flower, kind of accidentally spreading that pollen. Mason bees actually go around and grab that pollen and put it in little pouches that they have to take back to their nest.

What’s also different, mason bees are more likely to thrive in the winter months. They’re solitary. They hatch out of their nests in early spring. They don’t mind pollinating in the cold weather and the rain.

Plants with flowers that will attract the mason bee, but they’re something else you can do to keep them in our garden. For their natural habitat, they look for little holes drilled by woodpeckers or beetles, but you can actually buy or build a mason bee box. It’s kind of their natural environment. They make their home in here, lay their larvae and use it year after year.

If you want bees right away, you can buy little mason bee larvae, and simply slide that in the cocoon. They’ll hatch and they’ll continue to re-use the nest.

And with those little mason bees, you can have a wonderful, plentiful garden.

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