Submitted by Cindy McKitrick
With the dwindling of our native bee species, cultivating Mason Bees is a hot topic. These friendly workers can help sustain the infrastructure that makes for a beautiful environment. Last Sunday, The News Tribune dedicated two pages to setting up and harvesting Mason Bees in your yard. Yesterday, I completed one first full cycle when my first hatchling fledged in the warm afternoon.
I began exactly a year ago when I purchased housing materials at Willow Tree Gardens in University Place. Once set up was complete, the most arduous job I had was making sure the clay/mud bucket set below the nest was regularly kept wet. In October, it was time to see if any local Mason Bees had set up home in the tubes. To my delight, one tube had ten tidy cocoons sealed up between mud plugs. After carefully cleaning them, I housed them in my refrigerator until putting them out in the nest with new tubes on March 20th.
Watching the first emerge yesterday was the proof I was looking for that I had done it right. I feel like a proud Mama. With ten residents this year, I should easily triple my cocoon harvest for next year. It’s good to give something back to Mother Nature.