If this is your first year participating with Rent Mason Bees, or even if you have been hosting bees for many years, you may not realize where your bees go once you bring us back a block filled with baby bees and packed with mud.
As a backyard gardener or a small scale orchardist, you start with anywhere from fifty to a few hundred cocoons. Once they hatch they will fly around your backyard during the spring season, pollinating your fruit trees and the early blooming native spring plants. After the females have pollinated (they can visit close to 2000 flowers each day!), they lay their eggs in the wood blocks and in your backyard, and complete their lifecycle.
Once we get the blocks back in June, the baby bees go through their life cycle stages (egg, to larvae, to fully formed bee in a cocoon). Then we wash them and put them in the refrigerator to hibernate for the winter. Come spring, many of those bees (still in cocoons) will be loaded on a truck, and driven to eastern Washington, Oregon, Idaho, or California. Once there they will be hatched in commercial orchards to pollinate foods such as apples, cherries, pears and almonds. These are the fruits that will end up in our grocery stores.
We are excited to report that many of the farmers we work with are beginning to significantly change their farming practices in order to support our mason bees.
Since the bees are sensitive to many harsh pesticides and herbicides, a great number of farmers have chosen alternative treatments in order to preserve the mason bees that pollinate our crops.
We hope that you will feel encouraged by your participation with Rent Mason Bees. Not only are you boosting native populations of the blue orchard mason bee here in western Washington and Oregon, but by raising mason bees that will be used commercially on farms in the Pacific Northwest you are directly influencing our agricultural system, aiding in the advancement of a more environmentally conscious and sustainable industry.
We have more bees to rent this year than any other year before. We hope you choose to participate this spring by hosting bees in your backyard. We encourage you to bring your friends and family members into the Rent Mason Bee program. We appreciate your business.