Friday, March 20, 2009

First Day of Spring

Today is the first day of spring, believe it or not. The day opened with a 1/4" of snow. It melted quickly though and the rest of the day was in the low 60's and 50's. Plants have started to arrive that I ordered from various places, but I'm not certain when to plant them. There's so much dew in the air right now, and it's supposed to drop down to the 20's overnight. That means it's going to frost and I need to cover the Native Honeysuckles, Lonicera semprvirens, I planted. I think they'll be fine but I'm going to cover them with mason jars just in case. Spring is off to a slow start.

Earlier in the week I set out my Bumblebee Boxes, and Mason Bee Nest Blocks. Bumblebee Boxes are a simple bird house with a 3/4" hole in it. A clump of fabric or "former rodent nest" makes it enticing for them to move in. Some species prefer to nest underground and for those you'll need to install a hose/tube/pipe out the front end and bury most of it. (I've found Bumblebees nesting in my garden hose before. They don't last long though. Just turn the water on and they're gone.) Place the box in an area with tall grass. The trouble is the low success rate. I read 1 in 3 boxes are successful but I haven't had any luck yet. Thankfully there are other bees that might use the box.

Mason Bees nest in pre-drilled holes in untreated wood. Don't drill all the way through though, they prefer one entrance. Different sized around the size 5/16ths seem to be what works.

I have a nesting block of mason bees from last year. I'm going to set it out probably tomorrow or when I see my fruit trees blooming. They're a spring mason bees (only active for 4 to 6 weeks) so I want to make sure they wake up at the right time. They have plenty of nesting for this year I'm sure. Two bees from last year FILLED a block of 20 holes. Each hole probably has 5 to 7 bees in it.