Hopalong Hollow....

Hopalong Hollow, where the Blueberries grow sweet, and the moss feels soft beneath your feet.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Solitary Bees and a Handful of mice

Part one: Solitary Bees.
We are all familiar with Honey bees and dearly love and respect them for their industriousness,  complicated and fascinating hive life, their comforting buzzing presence in our gardens, and last but not least, their HONEY. The honey bee is not a native to America but was transported by English Colonists in 1638.

 
 But there are other bees, equally interesting, and actually more productive as pollinators than honey bees. These are N. America's wild bees, our native bees. I am speaking of Solitary Bees, friends you may like to introduce into your own garden. Amazingly, there may be over 30 thousand species of Solitary bees pollinating our world! Meet the Orchard Mason Bee, a gentle little bee that doesn't even sting.

Osmia rufa couple (aka).jpg.
(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)
 I first learned of these bees when I purchased a mason bee house at a country fair, and proceeded to learn all that I could about them from this little book, " The Orchard Mason Bee", by Brian L Griffin.
  Mason Bees and other solitary bees such as leaf cutter bees, bumble bees, capenter bees, and  onion bees do not produce honey nor beeswax. In the Mason bee world, all females are fertile and build their own nest inside natural tubular cavities such as hollow twigs, previously occupied beetle holes, or bored in tree stumps. You CAN also provide these bees with ready made homes, as do many gardeners.

 The female  Mason Orchard Bee chooses her own personal tube and then flits from flower to flower collecting pollen and nectar. When she has a nice "basketful" she backs into the tube, depositing the goods, and laying an egg atop the nutritional mass. She then builds a partition of mud and leaves the tube to collect more nectar, continuing the process until the tube is filled with eggs. All the female eggs are laid in the back of the tube, the males towards the front. The mother bee then blocks the tube with a mud door and goes on the find another "tube" in which to lay more eggs.
In Spring, the young bees begin to emerge from the holes as they chew through the mud daubing. The males emerge first and hover around the openings waiting for the females to venture forth. The males will mate them and then die...alas, Mother Nature can be rather sad sometimes
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 Because solitary bees have no Hive, Queen or Honey to protect, they are docile little creatures just going about their business and in so doing, pollinating nearly1600 flowers per day, as opposed to the honey bee, who visits about 700 flowers a day, pollinating only 5% of them.
 You can easily attract Mason bees to your garden by providing them with one of the many ready made bee houses available, or you can make your own bee house with a block of wood and a drill or a handful of bamboo.
DIRECTIONS for building a bee house ABOUND ON YOU TUBE.
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I purchased the above bee house is on Amazon. It is rather cute with a basket weave exterior. You can find any style to suit your garden, take a look!
 I purchased these paper mason bee tubes from "Crown Bees".
 I plan to place them securely in an old bird feeder for next years "bee nursery"

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Fellow blogger, artist and nature lover, Tammie, has built a wonderful Mason Bee house, check it out here: 
http://beautyflows.blogspot.com/search?q=mason+bee


 Although I've had a bar bee hive for 4 years (for honey bees), I have never actually FILLED it with honey bees because it seems like such a hassle to raise honey bees, and frankly, I am not all that interested in collecting honey, I just want the pollination for my garden.


 That is why I love the Solitary bees; they are so easy, so natural and they do a marvelous job in the garden; besides,they are very interesting little people.

 One day I will fill my honey bee hive, but for now, I am happy to have the Solitary Bees flitting amongst the blooms.
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Part 2: A mystery structure
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James is building something special here at the top of my slope with the wattle fence. I wonder if anyone can possibly guess what this will turn out to be? Not what you think, I bet! Take a guess, and I will show you next week when it is completed.
Many are guessing this is to be a swing... it would make a great swing, but it is not.
I will give you a hint, it is actually something for the BEES and the Birds.
Part 3: Mousies!
and little rats too.
I've been busy making rodents this week.
These little rodents will be looking for new mouse holes in which to dwell...
They will be up for adoption soon on this blog.

46 comments:

  1. What could you grow heavy enough for such a fine arbor/structure? Let me look again. Oops! I was going to say gourds, grapes, melons, but now I think I put my foot in my mouth. Is it for a swing from which to watch your garden grow? Love the little rodents. Precious.

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    1. Good guess Donna, but not a swing. I should give a little more of a hint.

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  2. Good for you for speaking up for your native bees. We have bumblebees here, I am not sure if you do too? They help pollinate our wild flowers and fruit. I have a small bee house in my garden made up of hollow canes and every year I see the holes being filled with cut up leaves, the work of the solitary bee.

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    1. Val, Bumblebees are my favorites, I am giddy when I see them!

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  3. Oh good heavens.....

    First of all, I LOVE BEES and I am glad that people here are making "Bee Friendly Gardens" all around town. The sad news about how our bees are dying off is not only bad news for them but for us....and I hope that we can turn this around by providing such great environments for them. But like you, many of us need to be educated more on these fascinating creatures.

    Jeri, your garden and home is teeming with activity at all times, and NOW YOU HAVE MOUSIES AND RATS TO OFFER! Good heavens, I need a whole new room to house my passions for your work, for Penny's work (can't get enough of it) and more. LOVE THIS POST!

    Now to get to school for finals. You have made me smile!

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    1. Anita, I am glad your neighborhood is welcoming the bees, all they really need is a garden or a fruit tree to do their job properly.

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  4. Good morning Jeri ~ What interesting info about the Mason bees. We do have cutter bees down here in s.e. FL, evidenced by the holes in leaves of roses and other plants.

    Your new creations are adorable.

    Would your new arbor piece be for a 'swing'? I just read comments before mine and see that someone else guessed this too. It just seems like a perfect spot to sit and relax, swinging while enjoying your gardens.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

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    1. Rainy, we do have cutter bees,. I learned that they only take a small portion of the leaf to block off their nesting site. It would be an excellent spot to sit and swing, but no, not a swing.

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  5. i have to figure out how to keep the mason bees out of my potting shed! i like having them in my gardens but they are drilling my shed into oblivion! is that going to be a garden swing? the mousies are so cute!

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    1. I think you must have carpenter bees, they are doing the same to our fascia on the house. Mason bees never make their own homes but those carpenter bees, as cute as they are, are drilling holes 24-7! Nope, not a swing.

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  6. What a beautifully informative post, Jeri! I never knew about the solitary bee. It's fascinating! We have lots and lots of trees riddled with holes, so I bet we have some of them here too. I hope so. Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. Starr, You may just have them or any number of other solitary bees also living in tree cavities, that is great!

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  7. Jeri, this was a fascinating post. I don't remember ever before hearing about solitary bees. Now I wonder if those were amongst the many, many bees I recently saw buzzing around fully bloomed wisteria over on Central Park. Perhaps there were several bee varieties enjoying the opportunity? xo

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  8. Francis, I am sure they were, since there are so many thousands of Solitary bee species. It is a shame we rarely hear about them and the Honey Bee gets all the glory!

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  9. I have certainly learned something new about bees today! I will have to get busy and identify my bees. I know I have the large bumble bees. And there are some little bees that might not be bees at all that hang around some of my flowers. I'll have to figure out what those are. As for the structure, I have no idea what both the bees and the birds could use.

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  10. There is a teeny tiny solitary bee called an onion bee, about 5/16-inch long. It is black with light colored bands on tummy, perhaps that is what you have.

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  11. Dear Jeri-what an informative post. I never knew about the Solitary bees. Wow they don't sting either. Now that is my kind of bee. Could your structure be a grape arbor? Love your sweet rodents. I am sure they will find fitting new homes. Hugs!

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    1. DEBBIE, We have a grape arbor, but this is not it.......

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  12. I always enjoy it when there's a post from you.
    Mama Bear

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    1. Thanks Sharon, and I love your little pup!

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  14. thank you for sharing about the bees
    they are so important to life on earth, especially human life
    seeing as we eat the foods they pollinate
    i made my first mason bee house this year, you can see it here:
    http://beautyflows.blogspot.com/search?q=mason+bee

    your rodents are my favorite sort, adorable and they don't try to take over the wee cabin ;-)

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    1. Tammy, Yes and I love that Mason Bee house you made, I linked it above.

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    2. nice that you linked to mine Jeri, Thank you. your paintings above are so charming, such lovely details.

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  15. Mice and rats are not my favorite creatures but yours are of course adorable. Who could resist?

    I've been thinking about the structure and wonder if it could possibly be an arbor designed to hold up a rambunctious wisteria vine? They have to be well put together to withstand all the twining and wrenching and weight involved with a wisteria vine.

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    1. We have a Pergola that holds up that HEAVY wisteria, but this structure is something made specifically for the bees... I don't think anyone will guess!

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  16. Dear Jeri,

    I see your Baptisia! It looks lots bigger than mine. I just made a bee house a week ago, and am hoping to see the holes filled soon. Oh, to have time and energy to make a fancy one! :) Your rodents are cuties; I'm sure they will find new holes in no time.

    Love,

    Marqueta

    p.s. I'm guessing you're making a gigantic bee/bird hotel :)

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    1. I can't believe you guessed!!! But you are correct This is going to be a Bee House with a thatched roof. We are hoping to have a space on the side of the eaves to make Dovecotes on each end and a bird feeder for my ducks on the bottom shelf. The main bee hive will be in the center. I hope you looked at Tammies Mason bee house, it is really cute!

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  17. Oh Jeri, I just adore your mousies and rats. I laughed out loud at the sight of them huddled in the tree stump. I surely do wish there were a way to clone your talents. Your critters are so lifelike that my husband couldn't believe it when I told him that you created them.

    I couldn't help but think about Sharon Lovejoy and the chapter on bumblebees in her book entitled, "A Blessing of Toads" when I read your post. I love all bees, but I especially love bumblebees. When Sharon spoke about the "bumblebee rumba", I started noticing their vigorous dancing while they pollinate tomato plants. Oh my goodness, they are just such fun to watch!! Can't wait to see James and your completed bee/bird house!

    Diane in North Carolina

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    1. Diane< I love Sharon's book "A Blessing of Toads" and I seriously love Bumblebees, they are the BEST! James was down with the flu for a week and fell behind on our Bee Haven.

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  18. Hmmmmm an insect habitat and haven???
    Jeri this was a great learning post!!! I sure do love all the bees that live around here! The orchard owners were putting mason or orchard bee boxes out for a few years, but now they rent honey bees. There is so much to learn and know :-)
    I really enjoyed this post!
    And those rodent felties are sooooo very delightfully CUTE!!!
    Xx oo Linnie Lou

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    1. Linnie, very close to that, mostly for bees. There is so much to learn about the bee-folk, it really makes one appreciate the little critters. I wonder why the orchard owners switched to Honey Bees?

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  19. Jeri....thanks for the orchard bee info. I have been thinking about adding a few of those tubular structures. And I have to tell you that after this post I am in rodent-love! They are adorable. I have never seen anyone capture the essence of an animal the way you do when felting! Truly a gift! Question....are you going to be in PA at all this summer on your show tour? If not, I will definitely find you at the Ohio CL Fair.

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    1. Beverly, I have definitely found a love for needle-felting, it's odd, because I was never really interested in doing it before. Those bees will be very happy on your farm, you can put the bee homes in a dozen different places.
      No plans for Pa this year, so I will see you at the CLFair in Ohio!

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  20. I'm in love with the little rodents you've made! I would love to cuddle one-that's how you 've captured all their good qualities! I'm going to look for the Mason bees around here, and you've got me interested in making a few homes for them. Thank you for a sweet post!

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    1. DEBRA, I've been looking at mason bee dwellings on Pinterest, and you simply won't believe how charming some of them are. It would look great in your garden.

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  21. Well I have to admit those are the cutest rodents I have seen. LOL! How interesting about the bees. I see very few honey bees around in my garden these days and it would not get pollinated if not for the other bees. I love the mason bees because they do not come after me as other bees do. LOL! Yes I am a wimp. Thank you for sharing about them. Okay I admit I cannot guess as to wht he is going to make from that arbor. Cannot wait to see it. Have a lovely weekend.

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    1. Lona, we are all wimps when it comes to getting stung!

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  22. Fantastic and informative post and lovely images.

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  23. I love bees. Your illustrations with them are just the best.
    Now as for your rodents...LOVE! :)

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    1. Shell, glad you like rodents, but I think you like bunnies best!

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  24. Dear Jeri,
    I have been away from the computer for quite some time... So good to be back.
    First, I love that you have included your beautiful illustrations on this post.. Mamsey bear looks so sweet tending the bees.

    I believe you have answered my question about a particular bee... Early spring I noticed the leaves on my rose bushes were cut.. It must be the cut bee, yes? It really worried me because I saw no evidence of any bugs, just all these leaves that were cut.. Thank you for all the info on bees.. I found it to be very informative and most interesting.
    So Marqueta was correct? James is building you a bee house? I can't wait to see this.

    Your mice.... Oh Jeri, they are fantastic! You are a wonder, my friend... I love the sweet faces...You truly have mastered felting, this is for sure.
    I hope all is well in the Hollow.
    Love and blessings,
    Penny

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  25. Penny, My goodness I was set to email you, you've been away for so long! Yes, You have leaf cutter bees, they just take a little piece of your rose leaf and use it to block off the nesting hole, isn't that cute? In return for that bit of leaf, you have your roses pollinated all season. Yes, that is one heck of a bee haven! It has a lot of parts, and we need to put the roofing on next. I have gone mouse crazy! I have 7 of the little buggers so far.

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  26. Hi Jeri, the things you do make my hear sing. xoxo,, love it all!!

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