Saturday, March 26, 2016


The "Friendly Little House" is decorative, not utilitarian. The stump is utilitarian! The decorative element camouflages a grid-pattern of drilled holes that provides a place for solitary bees to lay their eggs.  Six inches deep, the holes provide a perfect, protected place. Because the holes blend in with the bark, they are difficult to see in this photo. They are located just below the watering can in front of the little, winding fence. This is the stump of a pine tree that was cut down last year. The little house came about from my habit of looking for attractive additions to the landscape that will also serve the purpose of providing a haven for critters.

The house is a standard birdhouse without openings, as I thought bees might not like the risk of being eaten by birds. It is made of sturdy, solid maple. The roof is sided with the rough bark that was chiseled away from the stump. Mosses (green, brown and orange) tucked in among the slabs of bark, came from a variety of places in a yard that is quickly becoming too shady. The little attached shed, originally a waxy carton that held coffee cream, was covered with individual scales removed from a giant pine cone and roofed with the same rough bark as the house.

Get the kids--with their wonderful imaginations--to help devise garden plans. Everyone will get satisfaction from giving nature a boost and providing a pleasing garden feature.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


This is a good time to plan for emerging mason bees. When temperatures reach the mid-50's (fahrenheit) for about four to five consecutive days, it's a good idea to have a place ready for them to create a nesting spot. This temperature range will coincide with the blossoming of orchard trees.

As bees emerge, they immediately begin foraging and depositing eggs. The pictured teardrop-shaped mason bee house is a good start when providing habitats. These houses are usually equipped with a hook for hanging, but in my experience bees prefer their houses to be stationary--no dangling. So be sure to secure them if you choose this type nesting site. 

The gentle mason bee is smaller than the honeybee, but works alongside them  compatibly. And, with only six in an area, they could successfully pollinate one whole fruit tree. Native to North America, these gentle bees pollinate almonds, melons, and blueberries.

Upon emerging, their lifespan is approximately four weeks, but males begin dying off a few days after pollination.

The nesting tubes in a mason bee dwelling need to be 6 inches long to protect the eggs from long beaks like those found on woodpeckers.

For more information and pictures on how you can help our native bees, visit: