Many people are terrified of bees – and I think it’s a problem. We need bees! Pollinators are responsible for 1 in 3 bites of food we eat – and in case you haven’t heard many of them are now endangered.
Want to help save the bees? Here’s a start: Raise mason bees in your backyard this spring.
Unlike honeybees, mason bees are native to Canada – and they are better pollinators. A single mason bee does the pollination work of 60 honey bees.
Mason bees are also a great choice of bee to raise with young children or to introduce in a school environment. They are passive, gentle bees, with no hive to protect.
They’re only active for about six weeks in the spring so the time frame is ideal for those wanting a limited commitment or the ability to wrap up a project at the beginning of June.
Here’s my how-to build a bee house with kids using inexpensive and recycled items.
- a recycled juice/milk carton
- an empty paper towel roll
- parchment paper (cut into 6 inch strips)
- a pencil
- non-toxic school glue
- a couple of sticks (about pencil size, cut to 6 inch lengths)
- string or nylon cable ties
- acrylic paint (optional)
To create nesting tubes, roll piece of parchment paper around a pencil, glue at the end to secure, remove the pencil and allow to dry. Seal end of parchment nesting tubes by folding, blocking with clay, or you will need to ensure tubes are against the back of the house.
Cut paper towel roll to 6 inch length. Randomly place nesting tubes and cardboard sticks into paper towel roll so they are tight and don’t move around. (The random sticks will help the bees identify which nesting tube they are currently using.)
You can add multiple rolls and other natural elements such as pine cones and dried flowers.
We also added an empty toilet paper roll covered in parchment paper with a hole cut into it. We placed our cocoons in there to hatch.
Hang your mason bee house at eye level, 4-6 feet from the ground, on a solid surface, like a fence or the side of a building. One that will receive morning sunlight and not blazing afternoon heat.
Hang the house when temperatures are consistently above 10 degrees Celsius/50 Fahrenheit.
Do not put the home near a birdhouse. Birds eat bees. If birds are active in the area you might like to put chicken wire or florist wire over the front of the house for protection.
The bees will need access to spring flowering plants, water and mud or exposed dirt. If there are no pollinator friendly plants in the area, I suggest you plant some.
Do not use pesticides!