It’s prime time to start a Mason bee hive to pollinate your spring garden.
Since the bee-keeping ban has been lifted in NYC, it’s also a great time to explore an age-old gardening practice much needed in the NorthEast. Mason bees are the gentle, non-stinging relatives of the honey bee. They DO NOT make honey. Rather, they live out their short life-span in your yard, pollinating your plants and having babies.
This is how it works:
Buy a bee starter kit and bees from Sprout Home. This includes an easy to assemble bee house with tubes for the bees to nest in. The bees are refrigerated and sleeping inside cocoons. Bees and bee homes sold separately.
Set up the bee home in your yard facing the south or east. The bees want to be warm when they wake up and chew their way out of their cocoons. Place the cocoons gently inside their new home.
The cocoons will wake up and start their work in your garden. The female bees will start laying eggs inside the provided tubes, and stock those cocoons with pollen for them to eat when they wake up in Spring 2013. The bees will separate each cocoon with a layer of mud to protect them, giving each baby it’s own chamber to live in over the winter.
This whole process begins in late-March and concludes in early May, when the adults die away. At this point, the bee house is taken down and stored in a cool, safe area out of the harsh temperatures of the summer. This can be in a shady spot covered from the conditions.
Next spring, these babies will wake and do the same thing their parents did, all the time helping your plants flourish. It’s so Charlotte’s Web (sniff, sniff)!!