It's kinda difficult to post about bees or other pollinators when the 'long dark' is upon us here in Northeast Ohio. Frigid temps (12F right now) and blowing bitter snow almost denies what's to come next Spring. And honestly, we're just really getting into Winter! *sigh*
While bed development is at a standstill, at least there is ample time to add to my knowledge base of individual types of bees, hover flies and butterflies that the gardens will serve. Knowing which bees prefer what type of habitat will make the sanctuary more effective.
And here is a nice site that has lots of info on bees.
Take, for instance, the MASON BEE.
The pictures at the top of the post are not mine, but I found them in Google Images. The first one is a Red Mason Bee and the next one is a Blue Mason Bee.
I've never actually identified a mason bee on the property, but it may be that I have little for them to gather nectar or pollen from that early in the season. (Although I do have 3 crabapples...hmmm.) According to the above site, "blocks of wood with holes drilled in them attract nesting bees. These nest blocks are hung from trees or are placed in shelters for protection from the weather."
This is a pic is one of many commercial mason bee habitats that come in different configurations and materials. The bottom line is that these bees want a little tunnel to stock with a wad of pollen/nectar, lay an egg, seal it up, then repeat the process out to the end of the tunnel.
Well, mason bee habitat sounds like a fine winter project. While it's easy to find websites that actually sell these sorts of mason bee blocks, I'm going to rummage through my stash of cedar and make up some of my own. (Or, if cedar is too 'fragrant' to their liking, I also have plain old pine 2x4's that shouldn't offend. ;-) I'll put the drilled blocks in different locations and see if any of the little darlings take me up on the offer of free rent! If they actually nest and the pupae develop, then there'll be new bees awakening every Spring right in the gardens. How cool is that?