30 March 2008

Mason Bees Make Home

My bee house worked! About a month ago, I installed a bee house to attract native pollinating bees. Since then, an orchard mason bee or two have filled a couple of the holes with mud, eggs, pollen and nectar. You can see the two plugged holes in the center below.

Orchard mason bees make a series of mud cells in the hole, usually about 4-6 of them, each holding one larva. While honey bees can forage miles away from their hive for nectar and pollen, the mason bees stay relatively close to home, which is good for my yard (and a few of my neighbors too).

This is an orchard mason bee on the Texas persimmon (Diospyros texana) in my front yard, which has begun to bloom. The tiny bell-shaped flowers demure, but their sweet scent is heady and strong. The bees seem to like the tree too. They were abuzz all over the thing.

This is a wonderful tree with beautiful peeling gray bark on mature plants (a great alternative to crape myrtles for the bark, but not for showy flowers). I think this persimmon is a male, because I haven't yet seen any small black fruits form.

UPDATE (4/11/08): More holes are getting filled in, but they are the smallest holes. I wonder if it's a different species??


Anonymous said...

What a nice little bee house! Looking forward to meeting you next weekend. We love gardening!

tmtx said...

It looks relatively simple but what does it take to build a mason bee home? I've seen these little buzzers around my back yard but I know I don't have anything that is habitable so they must be coming in from somewhere else. Like you I'd like to have some living back here to pollinate my fruit trees. If you have some basic instructions or a website to post I'd appreciate it!

tmtx said...

See, that's what I get for not following the hot link. Thanks for the Xerses Society page!

Unknown said...

This is a great idea...thanks so much for writing about our buzzy friends, and I'm glad they've started making homes in your bee house. More people are starting to think about pollinating insects such as bees, and making their gardens more inviting to these creatures.

Unknown said...

So cool. I'll check out more information on bee house building.