No, it's not the latest foodie craze. It's a dream I had. Yes, I dreamt that some mason bee guru told me that you had to eat the cocoons so they could hatch and so I ate them like vitamin pills. It was very strange. What does it all mean? It means I have been reading about mason bees from dawn to dusk. I also have a feeling in my bones that the males are gonna come out this weekend. Now that the sun is out, masses of cherry trees and Pieris Japonica (see above) are blooming, it's time to see some mason bees! I've got some cocoons in my fridge that I might put out this weekend, depending on the long range forecast. In the meantime, I'm going to be hosting a mason bee charette with a grade 6 class. Each group of students will design the ultimate mason bee condo. Here are the criteria. Why not try it yourself and let me know how it goes?
1) Waterproof, weatherproof and sheltered from the elements (ie cold winds, snow)
2) Keeps cocoons safe from large predators: skunks, raccoons, woodpeckers
3) Keeps cocoons safe from tiny predators: mites and parasitic wasps
4) Has a way to be attached to the (south)east side of a building or architectural structure.
5) Has a way for bees to orient themselves to their home hole so they don't end up in a fight.
6) Allows the cocoons to breathe in wet weather and not get mouldy.
7) Opens up so that it can be cleaned and sanitized in November and easily reassembled for the spring.
8) The tunnels are made with a material that the bees have traction to navigate and turn inside the tubes without slipping.
9) The materials are ecologically sound and safe for the bees.
Bonus points for:
1) A safe compartment for cleaned cocoons
2) A predator guard
3) A really cool name
4) A really cool sign
5) A visible home so that you can monitor the bees at work
6) A way you can modify the home for summer mason bees and/or leaf cutter bees