Sunday, March 6, 2016

Masonic Lodge Now Open For Business!

Before the Fall
It has been a few hours since Scott said to me, "You'll have an extensive error report." During those few hours I've done some more work on the Grapevine Fence Gentrification Project (hereinafter GFGP), and I've raked up piles of fallen camellia blossoms and trimmed back the rhododendron that threatens to block off the front stairs, but it's not like I haven't all the while been mulling over the error report. Personally, I'm not sure it has to be that extensive, at least not yet. And it could be that the errors are really responsible for the experiment's conclusion, viz to wit: Install the new clotheslines before you mount the mason bee house on the clothesline support. This very helpful tip is not, I'm sorry to say, included in the forthcoming Mason Bee Revolution (MBR) an oversight I can explain only by saying that the book went to the printer some weeks ago.

 Last week about this time I ordered a modest quantity (20) of mason bee cocoons as well as some wooden trays that, placed together, make a dozen bee holes. (How the trays and holes work out is explained, quite adequately, in MBR.) The bees arrived in charmingly tiny box which truly was like an itsy bitsy treasure chest when I opened it; the little hives looked like jewels. I put them in the humidibee (part of last year's leafcutter package) which I put into the refrigerator behind the eggs. But, you know, it's a stressful thing having bee cocoons in the refrigerator. Did I add enough water to the padding? Too much? What if I keep them in there too long? And my apricot is blooming now.  As are plenty of other flowers which, surely, would provide adequate food supplies for a handful of bees. One way or another after a week of monitoring the temperature--and noticing that some other bees are buzzing about--I decided that the house could go out today. Then it poured down rain and it was cold and I decided it should wait. Then the sun came out and I decided it should go out. You get the picture.
Selection of tasty flowers now in bloom locally
 A few years ago, pre-MBR, we made a lovely bee house and bought some tubes for bees to nest in and put it out and absolutely nothing happened with it. It was disappointing, but we saved the house because, gosh darn it, it was pretty. Now I know that you're more likely to succeed if you actually buy some bee cocoons or at least put up some sort of bee-attracting pheromone sheet thing. This year, in short, I'm more optimistic. But then there's the error report.

 We (which means Scott) affixed the bee house to the east-facing side of the clothesline support (which I had noted gets morning light by about 10:00 a.m.). I then added a bed of broken-up dill stalks on which to rest the bee tray block and gently placed the bee cocoons atop the block, some ways back, before adding some more stalks and bits of stuff around the edges. It was quite lovely if I do say so myself. But why take my word for it? See the photographic evidence above. Sweet or what?

Feeling a sense of accomplishment, I then remembered that I wanted to replace the ratty and mossy lengths of clothesline with the new line that's been sitting on the kitchen table for a few weeks now. It all went fine while Scott was cutting away the old line, but I grew impatient and decided I should try to free one section myself. Which resulted in enough disturbance to the support that all the contents of the beehouse, including the bee cocoons, came tumbling out. The trays themselves landed in the overgrown garden bed.

Second Installation. This time with magnolia backdrop
Eleven of the cocoons plummeted to the patio. The other nine are, well, someplace, I'm sure; maybe they'll even hatch and find the house. (Note: There are a lot of things that look like bee cocoons in one's garden bed. It's quite remarkable, really.) Regardless, the majority of the recovered cocoons were fortunately females, and none of them seemed damaged. We finished installing the new lines, and then Scott reassembled the beehouse interior construction, this time adding a string across the front to prevent the trays from sliding out next time there's a disturbance in the force. Fingers are now crossed for the mason bees to hatch, mate, and reproduce successfully, obligingly doing some pollination of the fruit trees in the process.


  1. What, you didn't stock the lovely bee home with tiny umbrellas and waders? Have you seen any sign yet of soggy bees?

  2. What a brilliant idea!

    I think they're still slumbering; the ongoing wet weather is probably preventing them from getting the sunshine and warmth they'll want to wake up. Or, like people, they may just get hungry and wake up because of that. I guess I should be watching more closely.

  3. Absturz des Bienenhaus is an exciting story, but let's only have it told once. I had a look at the wee house yesterday afternoon and despite the rains it seemed dry inside.