Friday I talked about how little I could find about gardening for native bees. There are some resources for making a yard attractive for them however.
The first thing, of course, is to avoid the use of pesticides–and remember that the word “pesticide” includes not only insecticide but fungicide and weed killers too. All of these act on the nervous system of insects (as well as possibly on higher life forms–like us!) . It’s been well-established that butterflies are highly susceptible to pesticides. Why do we think that these other insects are not?
Since many of these bees are ground dwelling–and here again, I don’t want you all to confuse them with hornets that nest in the ground. Every year we have bumble bees nest in the same spot in the ground. We mow over the hole without any problem. I’ve even had a feeble little aged dog stumble and put a foot into the hole without any issue whatsoever. These are not hornets. Ground nesting bees are not a threat.
But that means that you’ll want to be careful about your soil (as you should be anyway, of course). Carefully consider what sorts of soil treatments you use. Needless to say, we do not use the “chemical” 4 step plans.
Mason bees will nest bore into wood and nest there. These are NOT carpenter bees–they do not technically damage the wood, although by boring in they are making holes.
You can buy or make mason bee nesting boxes for these bees to call home. They should be on a south or east facing tree and should be protected from the rain somehow.
Most likely you have seen–in catalogs or garden centers–boxes or containers filled with round pencil shaped hollow tubes. That is a mason bee nest box. You certainly don’t need to buy anything for your bees–I don’t–and I have lots of them anyway.
It’s far more important to keep them happy by creating happy conditions for them. On Friday I’ll talk about colors on the “bee spectrum” and how to plant.