Cherry Blossoms & Pollinators

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle

Cherry Blossoms

One of the most anticipated times around Washington D.C. are the cherry blossom trees blooming in the spring. When you see blooms, think pollinators.

David Proctor

 

 
  
From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.

 

 

 

 


Cherry Blossoms & Pollinators

by David Proctor


March 15, 2018

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly


We have changed our clocks forward an hour, the weather is getting warmer and the cherry blossoms are coming into bloom. March 20th is the first day of spring. What does all this mean? It is time to get ready for our outdoor growing season! 

One thing that we take for granted when we see our flowers and trees bloom, is the pollinators that are required for our plants and our survival. Without our pollinators we would not have the beautiful flowers that produce the fruits and vegetables that we need for our survival.

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms
Washington D.C. Cherry Blossoms

We can help our pollinators by planting plants and trees that occur naturally in our region so that the pollinators will have the food that they need to eat.

We can also help our pollinators immensely by limiting the herbicides and pesticides that are applied to our lawns and gardens. When a bee flies across a green lawn that may look great to us, the bee sees a green desert with nothing for nourishment. 

We love to look at the cherry blossoms, the apple trees and other fruit trees that are coming into bloom. As pleasing as the blooms are, I would take a cherry or apple pie any day over just having blooms with no fruit to consume. There are many pollinators that need a hand nowadays but I would like to point out the mason bee that is going strong. I did an interview with Dave Hunter, owner of Crown Bees, if you would like to read again, I will provide the link here for Part 1 Mason Bees and Part 2 Mason Bees.

 

Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC

I enjoy reading his newsletter which has very good information on starting your own mason bees. The mason bee is considered a super pollinator. Even though it can easily out pollinate a honey bee, the mason bee does not produce honey. Here are some excerpts from this month’s news letter:

 

Blooming Cherry Blossoms. I so want to go to Washington DC during cherry blossom time

 

Spring Bee House: Setup Tips from the Pros

You can think of bees as being cold-blooded and they need the warmth of the sun to get going. Your bees will have more time to fly and do all their work if they have a warm place to live that faces the morning sun. They also prefer a home that is stable, not swinging in the wind.

Choose a good bee house location:

• Within about 300ft/100m of your fruit & nut trees and berry patches.

• On a solid wall, fence, or post.

• Facing the morning sun (S or SE).

• Height: about your eye-level for easy viewing. Don’t give raccoons or other critters easy access to your bees.

• Avoid installing the bee house right next to a bird feeder or a birdhouse.

• Remember to keep plants trimmed for a clear bee-line to the house.

After you install your spring bee house, place only the 8mm sized nesting holes into the house. Spring mason bees prefer the 8mm sized holes. (The 6mm sized holes included in your BeeWorks kits are meant for summer leafcutter bees.)

Worried about birds?Birds might be attracted to the bee house and keeping your bees safe is easy. Get some wire cloth with 1″ openings and attach it to the front of the bee house. Make sure you give the bees space to move inside the house by bubbling the wire so that it’s 2-3″ away from the nesting holes. This keeps bird’s beaks from being able to get to the bees.

ASK THESE QUESTIONS BEFORE BUYING MASON BEES


Check It Out!

CrownBees

INTRODUCING OUR MUD BOX & STONE RAINDROP

I’m really proud of this new invention we’ve produced to ensure mason bees get the right type of moist, clayey mud.


Place your mud (or use ours that’s included) on top of the “black water transporter”. The water stored below is wicked up to the clay and lasts for a week or two. Four mason bee doors are just the right size to prevent frogs from eating them on the ground. What could be cooler than this?

In our NW bee-raising grounds we’re going to conduct an experiment to see what type of bee cocoon increase we’ll have this season. On Vashon Island are 225 bee raisers. A random third will get the Mud Box… We’ll report those results to you in a future Bee-Mail.

I’m confident mud is the number one issue impacting mason bee returns. I’d try it out if I were you. We have it at a fairly low cost!

While our Guatemalan wood raindrop was a great seller, we found that about one in twenty cracked earlier than we’d like. Quality is very important to us and we needed to replace it.

We found a wonderful pottery shop in Colorado who could make the same raindrops in clay then bake them to stone. We love the design and durability. Each is unique and handmade.

We’re substituting the stone raindrop into our previous kits. You’ll have a choice of either white or chocolate colors!
Our 4mm tubes for the smaller eastern US states is shipping to us this week. We should have them available on our website by end of next week. Consider placing these out amongst your 8mm mason bee tubes/reeds/trays this spring.


Quick Tip

“MONTHLY TIPS & REMINDERS”

✓TIP Placing out mason bees. Only place out mason bee cocoons if you have these requirements met:

Mason bee house, holes, and mud are set up correctly.
Adequate pollen is available. (Dandelions are out, cherry trees or similar fruits are beginning to blossom)
Weather for the foreseeable week isn’t stormy or snowy. While bees can handle small weather bumps, you will be more successful to wait a few days if in doubt.

Placing your bees out to emerge is easy! We want your mason bees to memorize where they came from. If they crawl over the nesting holes, it’s helpful. So, place your cocoons either loosely or in a small container (dixie cup) behind your tubes/reeds/trays, or on top of them. Don’t place your cocoons on top of the house as things might blow over.
 
Think through wind protection and beware of the cocoons as perfect “bird treats.” If it’s windy, ensure your cocoons won’t blow out. If you are concerned about birds, place chicken wire (3/4″ holes) on the front of your mason bee house.
 
By placing the cocoons out in the evening or early morning, We believe they’re more likely to hang around.
 
Many of you may be concerned that your bees may not be coming out when you want them. Please, rather than call us, read this web page I wrote this week that answers a lot of your questions about when should they emerge, what to look for, etc. 

✓ TIP Pre-emerging mason bees
If you have an early blooming tree, such as a plum, that might be too early-blooming for your mason bees, you have three choices.
1) Do nothing 2) Hand pollinate your tree with a feather duster or mittens 3) Pull a few mason bees out of hibernation early.
 
To pull mason bees out of hibernation early:
Using sharp scissors, you can cut the cocoons and let the bees out early.  
A simpler method can be to place a portion of your mason bees into a small container in a dark warm room (like a furnace or hot water heater closet) for a week. Check on your bees periodically. When most bees have emerged, cool the container in a refrigerator for 10 minutes and then place the mason bees on the top of your nesting holes. (Cool bees are less likely to fly away when you open the container. You can then easily place them on your nesting holes.)”


Bibliography:

CrownBees; Bee Mail News Letter


What Did You Think?

Let us know your thoughts on today’s issue. 


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