Musings of a Beaverton Teen: New BEEginnings… for Mason Bees!

By Lani Garcia (11th Grader)19 mason bee home

A new year means new BEEginnings. So let’s all live through 2018 with a little more respect for the creatures who we depend on. Bees. Specifically, mason bees.

I know most of you scream when you see a bee because of that oh-so-terrifying stinger. But don’t worry, it’s extremely rare for mason bees to sting. This shiny blue species is solitary, meaning they don’t live in a hive. Instead, they nest in holes they find. Each female lays her eggs in her own hole. Amazingly, mason bees can identify the gender of their eggs. They lay the females toward the back of the hole and males toward the front. After this, the hole is capped off with mud.

It is crucial to protect and support all bees, considering pesticides and increasing temperatures are nearly wiping them out. But here are some reasons why mason bees are special. There are around 75 species of them native to the Pacific Northwest, which means you can help. They are also way more efficient than honey bees at pollinating. Honey bees collect and stick pollen onto their hind legs, so not much pollen gets into contact with other blossoms, and pollination is not that efficient. Mason bees, on the other hand, are much messier, and drop pollen everywhere. Portland Nursery says that honey bees pollinate 5% of the flowers it visits in a day, but mason bees pollinate 95%. Plus, mason bees visit twice as many flowers a day.

We need bees and we can all do our part to help them. In Eco Club at my school, we are currently working on projects to help mason bees. Like us, you can drill holes into blocks of wood to provide homes for them (find out more: Since mason bees lay eggs in the spring, you’ll want to have your homes out by then. In addition to this, you can plant a pollinator garden to attract the bees. You will plant native plants, which won’t require any maintenance.

Completing these easy projects will help out the mason bee population and will make a big difference. In 2018, challenge yourself to BEE the change!

Lani is a junior at Beaverton High School. As a ZooTeen, she volunteers at the Oregon Zoo during the summer. She plays piano & guitar, and enjoyed doing dragon boats this past year.