Some of you may have read an article by Val Bourne in the Saturday Telegraph in February regarding red mason bees (Osmia bicornis).
The article explained that red mason bees are an endangered native, thought to be between 120 and 200 times more efficient than honey bees at pollination. Chris Whittles from Mason Bees UK, who supplies the bees to commercial growers to help increase yields, is now making the bees available to domestic growers too.
I have always been interested in bees but didn’t feel I had the time or expertise to take on a honey bee hive, but, welcoming some mason bees into my garden all seems to make a lot of sense. They don’t sting (good) and don’t produce honey (not really bothered) but do stay close to the nest and thus will hopefully concentrate on pollinating my plants rather than my neighbours’!
I signed up for my nest and it was delivered a couple of weeks ago. Having finished brandishing his chain saw on some rather undeserving bay and box plants, he swapped chainsaw for drill and kindly erected the nest, as required, in a sunny spot 1.5m from the ground.
I recognise it’s not the most elegant structure in the garden, but who am I to criticise a bee’s home?
I’m now awaiting delivery of the bee filled cocoons which get placed into the breeding tubes (which look rather like cut lengths of bamboo) and are in turn placed within the plastic tube.
I’ll keep you posted.