How I Got Started

I started Butterfly gardening many years ago. My yard has been a progression over the years, and has made many transformations. Twenty years ago I experienced Hurricane Andrew. My yard and house were destroyed. We decided not to replace the pool screening and open up the backyard and put in some landscaping. That was the official beginning of my love for gardening in South Florida. I added a beautiful water garden years ago, and have been adding host and larvae plants for pollinators, mostly for the butterfly, for as many years as I can remember. I had my yard certified as a Natural Habitat, through the National Wildlife Foundation. To have a natural habitat you need to provide and meet certain requirements: 1. Provide a food source, 2. Provide a water source, 3. Cover, 4. A place to raise young. I try not to use any pesticides in my yard. I vermicompost and recycle as many of my food scraps as possible. If I had more land I would have a huge compost bin to recycle all my yard cuttings. Basically, I try to lessen my carbon footprint on this earth. In my own little world or backyard I try to provide an ecosystem in my water garden, provide birdbaths, birdfeeders, hummingbird nectar sources, feeders, puddling areas, host plants and nectar plants for butterflies and other pollinators. I am hoping to raise everyone’s awareness of the importance of saving our Butterflies, Blooms & Bees. Without them our world and food source will be in trouble. I hope you all enjoy my journey. I am not a Master Gardener, or Master Beekeeper, an Entomologist, or Journalists. I am simply a Backyard Gardener who is trying to lessen her Carbon Footprint of this Earth.

I hope you enjoy my blogs.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mason Bees


While I was attending the Bee College there was a class on our Native Bees.  I wasn’t able to attend, but now wish I had.  Jason Graham gave the class and he is in the process of obtaining his Doctorate from the University of Florida.    About 2-3 weeks ago they started a Website called the Native Buzz.   http://www.ufnativebuzz.com/index.html .  This is a citizen science project, and they are trying to increase the public awareness of the importance of our pollinators.   Everyone should be able to get involved.  It is not very hard to start a habitat for our native bees.  There are plenty of mason bee houses that can be purchased commercially.  

 I got my house from www.masonbeecondo.com.  I also bought ten Japanese Horn faced Mason Bees, from Crown Bees www.crownbees.com.   There were 6 females and 4 male cocoons.   To provide a proper habitat for native bees they need:   pollen, nesting materials wood with holes, reeds, bamboo, and mud.   Unlike honeybees the mason bee lays little eggs in holes made from wood, reeds, etc.  In the fall you harvest these little cocoons, place them in the refrigerator where there stay dormant until spring.  In March when the weather starts to warm you release these mason bees and hopefully they will stay in your yard and pollinate your flowers and trees.  Mason bees and native bees are excellent pollinators.  They actually are better pollinators than honeybees.  Honey bees assume different roles in their six week life.  One role is to be a pollen gatherer, and a different role is to gather nectar. As a result, the honey bee enters a flower differently depending on what she is gathering.  Each flower visited isn’t necessarily pollinated.  Mason bees gather both pollen and nectar in their flower visits.  

It is estimated that over 97% of the flowers visited by a mason bee are pollinated.  Roughly one foraging female mason bee is equivalent to one hundred foraging honey bees. I had my little hibernating mason bees in the refrigerator for a few days waiting for my mason bee house to arrive.  Once I took them out of the refrigerator they became active very quickly.  I brought them out to the yard and their habitat and off they flew.  I have no idea if they will return to the mason bee house.  Hopefully they will be out in my yard pollinating my butterfly garden.  If those little mason bees do not return I will hopefully attract our Florida Native Bees to my habitat.  I have joined the citizen project through the University of Florida.  I hope you get involved this would make a great project for a family with children.  One thing I forgot to mention is that mason bees usually don’t sting like a honey bee.  So you could attract these little bees to your garden without being afraid of getting stung.  

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