However, we still need bees to pollinate our garden and our flowers, and to be honest, we just like having bees around. So, lacking the space and privacy to manage honeybees, it made a lot of sense when we first bought our house to make sure we were providing habitat for bees. Having read about some of the most common native pollinators, blue mason bees, on the internet, I requisitioned an old log from a creek bank in Fall 2004, drilled it full of 3/8" holes (the diameter preferred by blue mason bees), and watched with great satisfaction as the "bee condo" filled up the following spring.
Identifying the species of bees can also be challenging. Some species, like carpenter bee and sweat bee, are quite easy to recognize after anyone's seen them a few times. Others, like the numerous species of blue/black mason bees, red mason bees, long-eared bees, and many others are just too hard to figure out, given the fleeting nature of field observation. When I've sent photos to bee experts, the universal response is, "Need more pictures." Doesn't matter how many I send, it's always 300% too few.
Other than provide these bees a home, I really don't do anything for them. They keep coming back, and I always make sure they have plenty of flower pollen to eat. Now that I've abandoned the community garden, and built up the home garden into something respectable, I look forward to watching the bees every day.
And...spoiler alert...with the 17-year cicada hatch headed north in the next few weeks, I eagerly anticipate that the Cicada Killer wasp, another solitary native "bee," will be wreaking absolute havoc in our neighborhood. Should be some interesting photos: 3" cicada vs. 2" wasp.
|The new 'Upper Garden" (1 of 3 veggie growouts at the house), complete with 300 gallons of rainwater-fed drip irrigation|
|Version 2? on the right, version 3/4 on the left|