Spring Blooms & Mason BeesMarch 17, 2011
The earliest of the spring flowering trees are awash in clouds of pink, purple & white all over Seattle. These are the trees best loved by solitary Mason bees, which are beginning to emerge from their cocoons to pollinate, forage, mate, and lay eggs for next year’s brood — all in just a few short months before summer.
Most people miss out on these tiny, black bees. They’re out in the garden doing their good works even in cool late winter weather. They are essentially stingless and definitely non-aggressive.
In my garden, I sponsor a space for Dave Hunter’s Orchard Mason bees to spend their active season. Just a week ago, I picked up my kit for the season. Last Sunday, Bob put the first tube out in their box on our warm, south-facing side of the house. (We’ll be moving tubes filled with cocoons out of the chilly fridge to the bee box over the course of several weeks with the hope being that the bees have a better chance of survival even if we have a cold, wet horrible spring.)
Today, the sun came out. The south side of the house warmed up. And, I spotted the first mason bee lurking on the edge of the box — likely a male waiting for his first potential date to emerge to do the dance of love with him.