We are so excited for 2020 Solitary bee season!
We have some BEAUTIFUL new Bee Houses coming out. They have been made for several years by a disabled friend of mine who I considered my uncle. He loved his work but had a lot of pain and this time on earth was too much for him. He finished our order of 40 of each style of box for Spring 2020 and then took his life that night. These white boxes coming out in spring are made with love and are precious. We try and build sturdy, long lasting habitat houses with sustainable materials.
We have locally sourced and hand cut reeds this year again. These are a favorite for bees. Sized small, large and mixed. We like to mix and match to attract different bees.
Some of the reasons you should order from us:
1. Everything we do is sustainable.
2. We are the ones that many of the “big” solitary bee companies get their bees from.
3. We do it for the bees, not to make a profit.
4. We source HIGHLY sustainable reeds and habitat boards. Buying a bee house from a craft store, they usually sell you blocks of wood with holes drilled in them which is BAD for the bees.
Here’s some Bee Habitats we have carried in years past. Check our store for current native bee homes for sale.
What are Solitary Mason Bees???
Native bees that do a much better job of pollinating than Honeybees. They are very gentle solitary bees that live in holes in wood (but do not bore in and create them) or inside reeds or dead bushes. The size of hole determines the type of bee. There are many different types of Mason Bees. Here are two varieties that do great here in the Midwest (ours are local to Utah County, Utah.)
Blue Orchard Mason Bees – Osmia lignaria
A gardeners friend. These ladies are stunning in the garden. They’re a beautiful deep black and shiny blue. They are NOT aggressive and if you are stung, you’ll practically have to force them to sting you and it’s more if a mosquito bite type sting. They do very well alongside your honeybee. They follow a very similar life cycle to leaf cutter bees. The females are laid near the back, the males emerge first and eagerly wait until the females emerge. They mate, the males die off (sorry boys!) and the females go to work collecting pollen and mud to seal off the individual cells in-between. Blue mason bees usually start emerging around the time your apricot trees blossom.
These guys are the best at pollinating your spring fruit trees. They hatch and forage for 6-8 weeks when go into hibernation until the following spring. Super easy and fun, they would make a great science fair project for kids or are a blast to watch them come out. Simply buy a house (more being made soon!) and hang it on a fence or tree pointing down slightly. You don’t want water to get inside the nest. (bee photo Credit https://graceandmystery.wordpress.com)
These amazing gardeners friends are quite the interesting lot. Also known as alfalfa leaf cutter bees, one of these beauties can do the work of 20 honeybees! When used in a greenhouse setting, it’s been said that about 150 leaf cutter bees could do the work of 3,000 honeybees. They too are gentle and friendly and have a similar life cycle except that they emerge later in the season than mason bees. Like the Blue Mason Bee, they are a cavity nesting bee. They make their nests very similar to the mason bee but require a different diameter of hole. They usually start emerging around mid-June and go for 6-8 weeks. Emerging in mid-June, they are great pollinators for your melons, pumpkins, cucumbers, squash, beans, peppers, tomatoes and more.
They are often mistaken for honeybees or even hover flies and you can’t always tell the difference unless they area actually out cutting leaves or you look for their pollen baskets which are actually on their abdomens rather than their hind legs like bumblebees and honeybees. The neat thing about leaf cutter bees is that they actually go and cut pretty rounded segments out of leaves in your yard. It doesn’t harm the plant and unless you’re selling prized rosebushes, you won’t really notice it much and if they concentrate on a particular bush (they do tend to like roses) you’ll get a beautiful scalloped or frilly look. It’s good to not spray your plants with pesticides for this reason, among others. Why do they cut leaves? They take these segments and line them up in-between the cells of the new baby bees. Once the females emerge in the spring, they start foraging and collecting pollen and lay an egg in the back of the nest on the pollen so that the baby bee can feed and grow and overwinter in that cell. The females are laid towards the back and the makes more towards the front. Females can lay up to 40 eggs each. Do not open your leafcutter bee boards expose to sunlight or they will die. They are very easy to keep. Just keep the box inside your garage or somewhere cool out of the weather until June and then place outside and watch the magic happen! (bee photo Credit https://graceandmystery.wordpress.com)
I WANT BEES!
Great. We think you’ll love your new neighbors. For pollination, I’d recommend getting both kinds. For fruit trees, do the Blue Orchard Mason Bee. If you’re wanting more vegetable gardening pollination, try the leaf-cutter bees. For Raspberries and Gardens, try the Californicus.
These beneficial buggies are awesome for kiddos or for people who have a small space. We locally raise these cuties and get the wood nesting holes from THE supplier in Oregon when we can’t make enough ourselves. They are much easier to clean and manage and reuse every year rather than hollow reeds. Any of these beautiful bees would make a great summer project for kids or as a science fair project.
Want even more of a hands-off approach? Want to just have the pollination and not worry about a thing? FARM AND HIVE will maintain your colony for you. You can buy the house and bees and leave them in your yard to do their thing. Drop them off and we’ll help you hibernate them over the winter, clean them up in spring and provide you with a fresh package every year for FREE.
School Scholarship Programs- Donate a Habitat
We have loved teaching about Native Solitary bees in many classrooms. It provides an amazing resource and learning opportunity to kids as young as 4 to understand the lifecycles, importance and enjoyment of bees without the cost, gear, time or stings of honeybees.
Donate a Habitat
If you have thought about helping bees but do not yet have the time, space or energy, consider donating a habitat to a classroom. ($150) This will be listed in our product page as an option available to purchase soon. You can also specify a specific classroom to donate it to and it can be shipped across the U.S. when the time is right for that specific area. Any variety of Solitary Bee and Habitat we well are available to donate.
If you have a class that would like to be considered for a donated habitat, please contact me. I will have forms available here soon.
Any Questions,call Susie (801)244-6994