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Happenings Around the Homestead

Spring is here!  Trees are blossoming, flowers are popping up everywhere, and the beautiful Cherry Blossoms have already passed their peak.  I love this time of year!  However, it also means it is time for the work to begin.  In fact, many people have already put out some of their summer vegetables, something I am hoping to get to this weekend (writing this on Saturday).  If my schedule works out as planned, I hope to have popcorn and some other vegetables planted this weekend.  UPDATE: I did get the popcorn planted, but that was it.  I hope I can find the time next weekend to do some more.

Perhaps the most exciting news here at the homestead this week has only indirect ties to gardening though.  I am now a beekeeper!  Don’t be expecting honey anytime soon though, as I don’t have honeybees.  This week my first shipment of native bees, Blue Orchard Mason Bees, arrived!  Did you realize that honey bees aren’t even native to the United States?   Nope, they were imported to the United States from Europe in the early days of this country.  Blue Orchard Mason Bees, however, are native to the US, along with many other bees of which you may have never heard.  I’ll be sharing more about this in coming posts, I am sure.  🙂

This doesn’t mean I don’t have an interest in honey bees.  I do.  However, my primary reason for bees is better pollination, and the native bees are better pollinators than the honey bees.  Of course, honey bees have the added benefit of honey.  For some reason, this reminds me of the chickens.  Let me explain.  I often say, jokingly, that I whisper to the birds, “It’s either eggs or meat, your choice.”  However, I think the better way to think of chickens is as fertilizer factories that control pests and produce eggs as a side benefit.  With the bees, they are primarily pollinators, and if they produce honey, that is a great side benefit.

So, how about a few pictures?

First off, this is the kit:

Mason Bee Kit

Mason Bee Kit

Here are the bees right out of the box.  They are still groggy, but yet they have all emerged from their cocoons.

Groggy Mason Bees

Groggy Mason Bees

 

Here are some nice macro shot of the bees.

Male Blue Orchard Mason Bee

Male Blue Orchard Mason Bee

Blue Orchard Mason Bee

Blue Orchard Mason Bee peering out at me.

Male Blue Orchard Mason Bee

Male Blue Orchard Mason Bee preparing to fly.

Male Blue Orchard Mason Bee

Male Blue Orchard Mason Bee

Blue Orchard Mason Bee

Blue Orchard Mason Bee and a good view of the tubes

Female Blue Orchard Mason Bee

Female Blue Orchard Mason Bee

Female Blue Orchard Mason Bee

Female Blue Orchard Mason Bee

Finally, here is a shot of their new home, which I placed on the eastern side of a tree in our yard.  I might move this to a different location next year, but this seemed like a good starting spot.

Mason Bee House

Mason Bee House

Rest assured, this is not the last you will hear about Mason Bees.  😀  More to come, perhaps even later this week.

 


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