Mason Orchard bees
One of my favorite Christmas gifts this last year were these two bee nesting boxes-top photo (thank you Jeannie!). We all have heard of the decline in honeybees, but did you know that honeybees were not native to
A few years ago my brother Ed built me a mason orchard bee (Osmia lignaria) nesting block out of non-treated, but rot-resistant, lumber (the second photo). I actually purchased two tubes of mason orchard bees for them. These bees are excellent pollinators for those early flowering fruit trees, like apples, peaches and pears. It might just be coincidence, but the year I got them I had a bumper crop of peaches and apples. Mason orchard bees like to have tubes of a specific diameter (1/4 to 3/8 inches in diameter). They do their early pollination, then lay eggs in the individual tubes or holes, cover with a plug of mud and are done for the year, often filling multiple tubes. These blue-black bees live for about a month and are generally gentle, rarely stinging. They do have a tendency to move on, but your bee block can be inhabited by new bees year to year. Unlike honeybees, they need no special care.