45 Practicing Good Mason Bee Stewardship… The Bee Buddy Way


Speaker 1: From the Oregon State University Extension Service, this is Pollination, a podcast that tells the stories of researchers, land managers, and concerned citizens making bold strides to improve the health of pollinators. I'm your host, Dr. Adoni Melopoulos, assistant professor in pollinator health in the Department of Horticulture.

Dear listeners, I imagine you are all kind of like me. You've got a refrigerator at home, and there's some cream, maybe you've got some eggs, and somewhere in the bottom you've got a tray of things that look like pinto beans, which are actually resting osmial agneria orchard mason bees. They're in their cocoons, we clean the cocoons in the fall, and now it's spring, and you want to know what to do next, as do I. So this was a great opportunity to go across town to the Benton soil and water conservation district to meet with Heath Kirsted and Jerry Paul. Now, as you might remember from episode 11 with Laura Taylor from West Multnomah, soil and water conservation districts are doing a lot for pollinator health, and we're going to cover some of this in this episode. But Benton County has a real unique program called the Bee Buddies Program, where they're locating really responsible landowners and giving them tools to become real stewards of this bee. But they literally have a dozen or so programs that help pollinators, so as you listen to this episode, check them out at bentonswcd.org. So without further ado, let's hear about how to keep mason bees happy in the spring.

All right. Well, I have traveled across Corvallis to come to the Benton soil and water conservation district, where I am talking with Heath and Jerry. Welcome to pollination, guys. Hey, welcome back.

Speaker 2: Thank you. It's fun to be here.

Speaker 1: Yes. And I know lots of our listeners are keeping mason bees, and they're really busy this time of year, wondering should they put their mason bees out and how do they put them out? Can you walk us through what people need to do over the next few weeks to get good establishment of osmulignaria?

Speaker 3: Over the next few weeks, wait. We are not ready to put out the mason bees yet.

Speaker 1: Really? Okay. So tell us more.

Speaker 3: Our mason bees need to have at least 55 degrees of weather with no frost at night and no heavy rain. And in Oregon right now, March, last year, we didn't, we weren't able to put out the mason bees until about the first of April. So again, right now, wait, put out your nest boxes with your tubes, if you want to. We might be able to collect some of the native bees that did hatch already and are looking for a place to live. Get your source of mud ready. That's the major part that mason bee needs, a hole in the ground. And mud? Mud, yes. That's how the mason bee got her name. She does a pollen ball, lays an egg on it, and builds a mud wall, a mason she is. So the other thing to- Wait, wait, wait, wait.

Speaker 1: So what do you do? How do you get your mud ready?

Speaker 3: You get your mud ready by digging a hole in the ground and making sure that the mud is the correct type of mud. It needs to be slick mud. They don't like a lot of organic matter in it. They don't like a lot of sand in it. It has to be really slick. And the best way to test your mud is to grab a handful of it. And if you can make a three or four inch worm, she's really going to like it. All right.

Speaker 1: So I'm going to get- But what I'm going to do after listening to this episode, because I was anxious. I was like the rest of them, I was like, well, I see maple blossoms open, but I'm going to wait. I'm going to dig my hole and I'm going to put my material out to catch some of those bees that are already flying the wild ones. That is correct.

Speaker 2: Okay. So one of the things that people have been calling up, our bee buddies have been calling and telling us that everything's blooming, the plum trees are blooming and stuff. And what should they do? They really want to get started. And so, Jerry, can you make everybody feel better about the fact that their trees are going to be okay? They're still going to get fruit? Or is that not the case? Like, are they not going to get fruit because the bees aren't ready to come out yet?

Speaker 3: No, I think that people are anxious. They have one tree in their backyard and it's probably a plum tree that's blooming now. And if we deliver 25 mason bees, females, and they hatch and you only have 15 blossoms on one tree, our mason bees are going to starve to death. So what we want is a preponderance of different types of flowers so that they can live through their period of March through June with plenty of pollen.

Speaker 2: And that's another thing that I've heard is that right now the flowers are opening up, but there's not pollen yet. So they need to, they're okay because the pollen needs to be there for the pollination to happen. So it's building. Yes.

Speaker 3: You can test your flower if you want by touching the flower itself and you don't get any pollen on your finger, the flower is not producing enough pollen yet. Okay.

Speaker 1: And I've heard this before from others, it's you can't be too anxious to put them out right away. This is great advice. So they're going to come out though. Eventually, I'm going to put my cocoons out. And then what happens over, you know, after the bee comes out of the cocoon, like what happens then?

Speaker 3: Okay, let's go back one step and we'll answer that question. Okay. When you put your cocoons out to hedge our Oregon weather, it's best to put a third of your cocoons out first, wait two weeks, put the second third out, wait two weeks, and put the last third out after that two week wait. That way, if we get any bad weather or we get a snowstorm or a frost, you didn't lose your entire crop of mason bees. So now when they hatch, the male hatches first. And when he hatches, you'll see a little bit of gunk on the end of your release tube, knowing that he is gunk. Well, let's use the word gunk. It's kind of an ochre colored gunk.

Okay. He's been in hibernation for a long time. So he comes out and his first trip to a flower is just to get something to eat. He's burned off all of his fat during his hibernation. And then he's back to the release tube waiting for the female to emerge, which his only job is to mate with her.

He lives for only two weeks. And then the females are out foraging and they're collecting pollen. They're provisioning their nest tubes. And what they do is they put a pollen ball, lay an egg on it, and do a mud closure, pollen ball, egg, mud, pollen ball, egg, mud all the way out to the end of her tube. And she's can do about two tubes in her lifespan, which is six weeks long. Then in June, we need to remove the tubes because our predatory wasps that attack our mason bees start to hatch at that time.

Speaker 1: Okay, let me get this straight. So you've got inside now. So they've closed it all up. The female has passed away. And her babies are eating that pollen. And then as they're eating it, we're going to move them away. We're going to kind of get them out of the line of fire of these wasps in June. That is correct.

Speaker 3: We're going to put them away so that the wasp doesn't affect them. And the birds don't come and eat the end of the tubes. But then in the main time too, we've also got a bunch of pollen mites that are in her tube that she's carried in there. And some of them are eating that pollen ball and starving the larva. So we've got to be very careful when we take the tubes down as well is that you don't want to, you want to hold the tubes so that the closed rear end of the tube is down so that you don't shake the larva off the pollen ball. If you shake them too much, you have to be really careful. The larva falls off the pollen ball, it will starve to death.

Speaker 1: Oh, right. Because it doesn't, it can't walk or nothing.

Speaker 3: That's correct. So be very careful when you take them down, put them in a paper bag and in a box and seal them away in a warm location so that they can go through their cycle of to pupa larva larva pupa to adult.

Speaker 1: Okay, so why go to all this trouble? I mean, Heath, you mentioned pollination that it seems like a lot of people that you talk to are really interested in these bees. Are they good pollinators?

Speaker 2: They're great pollinators. They can boost fruit production two to three times over not having them. And one mason bee is equivalent to about 100 honey bees. So if you have a cherry tree, it might take five to seven mason bees to pollinate that, but it would take over 600 honey bees to do that same tree. So yeah, they're great. They're super hard workers and they work in all different types of weather conditions.

So that's really one of the things that's so awesome about them. Now they don't provide honey for everybody, but they do help with your fruit. So you get more fruit if you are taking proper care of your mason bees. And one of the things we didn't talk about yet to make them successful is that you don't want to put your mason bees out just anywhere. The location that you choose for the nest box is really important.

And so I just wanted to make sure we cover that for folks. So they're not putting their mason bees out in a south facing site or somewhere too hot or somewhere that's too cold. They want that morning sunlight so that they warm up and can get going, but that they don't cook and their babies don't cook in the heat of the day. So those are really important things. And a little shelter is always a good thing, having an overhang so that your nests aren't getting all wet, you know, and splashed with rain, or you wouldn't want to have them in the wind if it's really windy and the thing is knocking all over the place, then what Jerry said about the eggs falling off of the pollen balls, it could happen.

Speaker 1: The house is swinging in the wind.

Speaker 2: Exactly. And people do, and especially with teasle bundles and stuff like that, any natural material, you might think of just hanging it in a tree or a crook of a branch or something, and that wouldn't be too good for the bees. They might not choose that location unless they felt it was really stable so that their babies had a good chance of survival.

Speaker 1: Okay, what else is a good site? So we talked about like, you talked about like lots of stuff for them to eat. And I guess part of it is your fruit trees that you want pollinated, but what other kind of plants should begin the vicinity of your...

Speaker 3: Any of the native plants that are blooming early, of course, and ryebees are one of the ones that they do, which is a native. It's also the Indian plum, although the Indian plum seems to be blooming a lot earlier than our weather is allowing the mason bee to come out, so that's not it. There are other plants.

Speaker 2: Oregon grape is a good one. Very good one. And that's our state flower, so always a good thing to have in your garden. You know that.

Speaker 1: Oregon grape. Okay.

Speaker 3: Makes sense. Yeah, okay. One question that we're asked a lot is the question of how high do I hang the bee box? And our answer is eye level because they're really fun to watch. And you can look in there. You don't want them too low because they'll be at the splash zone on your house, and you don't want them too high because you can't see a thing, but they really don't care. So do them at eye level so you can enjoy them.

Speaker 1: I've been asked that question a lot, and I didn't know how to answer it. Thank you.

Speaker 3: You're welcome. The other thing about why there's such a good pollinator is that Honeybee uses wet pollen, and she mixes the pollen with nectar.

Speaker 1: Oh, right. To put it on her curricula.

Speaker 3: Yes. So that she doesn't want it to fall off. She wants to get it home and get it in the refrigerator. Yeah. So the mason bee is just a hairy little gal, and she just flops in the flower and gets stuff all over her. And she also goes from flower to flower and is a great cross pollinator where the Honeybee tends to go to the same source all the time back and forth. The other thing with the mason bee is you can target your crop. They only fly up to about 300 feet from their nest box where the Honeybee, if she gets outside the area with no pollen where she's supposed to be working, she'll go two miles to another location and pollinate that area. So that's why the mason bee, we can use them as a target source of pollinating. Okay.

Speaker 1: I think we've laid the ground. Let's take a quick break, and then I want to come back and ask about the programming that you have here at Benton Soilwater Conservation District, how you sort of fit this into your overall programming.

Okay. I think most people probably know this from previous episodes, but the mason bee that we're talking about, Osmea Lignaria, is a native species to this area. And across many western states, our listeners in California or up into Washington, they're also going to have this as a native bee. So Benton Soilwater Conservation District has launched this Bee Buddies program.

And as it's primarily, what I understand is a weight encouraged stewardship of this bee among landowners in this county. Can you tell us where the idea for the program came from and what was your goals? What did you really want to accomplish with the program?

Speaker 3: Well, I guess that I started with 25 cocoons as a homeowner and put them out for a couple of seasons. And in two seasons, I had over 250 cocoons that I harvested. So the question was, what do I do with those? So I came to Heath and the Soilwater Conservation District, and I said, let's start a program because I've done some things wrong after researching how I did it. And this is a good opportunity to get these wonderful little bees out in the public and create an education program so that they do not create the same mistakes that I do. Did.

Okay. So that's really how it started. And we started with 250 cocoons and 22 nest boxes that we were putting out in people's yards. The idea is that if you go through the cycle and tell people how to do it, it seems really, really complicated. So the idea is that we take the complicated portion out of it, we bring the box to your house, we install it with the cocoons, you get to enjoy the activity of the bees, enjoy the harvest that they're going to provide you, and we come June 1st and pick them up and then store them. And then the next part of the plan is that we put on a cleaning cocoon cleaning classes. And so that next year, you can either rejoin the program or that you can start to do it correctly by yourself. We are expanding our program this year and going from the 22 boxes to 40 boxes.

Speaker 2: So what I wanted to add to that is that if you think about the maize and bees in nature, their survival rate I've heard is about 30%. And then when you properly care for them, which is one of the very few types of bees that you can care for aside from honeybees, and it's one of the only native bees that you can actively manage, you can boost that return rate, that success rate to 90%. However, if you aren't caring for them properly, which is easy to do because there are a lot of little tiny steps that if you don't do them or if you do them incorrectly, you could kill that whole population. So you could actually cause a detriment to the population instead of helping the population and all the pollinators are in decline. So this is just one way by educating folks on the proper way to take care of them that we're hoping to help with that.

Speaker 3: I think another way of looking at it is that we are using the mason bee as our ambassador to talk about things and draw attention to the use of pesticides, global warming, and loss of habitat. And people are drawn to that little bee in order to give that message to them.

Speaker 1: I mean, that's the first way that I heard about the program was outreach. I mean, it seems like a really, it's a way that you guys are out in the county educating people on native bees, like it's been really successful that way. Go around the county, people know about this program.

Speaker 2: That's right. When we table at different events, it's really fun and eye-catching. People love to come up and check out the different kinds of nest boxes we have always bring with us, some that are the wrong kind to use, and some that are great to use, and ones we recommend.

We bring bees and photographs of the bees so you can get really close and personal view of what what these little adorable little bees look like. I just love them. Once I started looking at them, I just think they're so cute.

Speaker 1: And I guess for, this is probably the iconic bee that people don't think is a bee. They all always think it at first glance is a fly.

Speaker 2: Exactly. That is correct. So it must really blow a lot of people's conceptions about what bees, like people who haven't thought or been exposed to bees. It must be their first introduction to mason bees. Not only is it not a fly, but it's a solitary bee, and it's gentle. That's another thing that is really appealing to folks is that whereas honey bees are pretty aggressive, the mason bees aren't. They're super gentle. The females can sting, but it's very unlikely that they would sting because if the female passes away, there goes the end of her genetic line.

Speaker 3: And the thing that we hear at the tabling as well is that people, after we tell them and show them what the mason bee looks like, they say, oh yeah, I've seen that. There's a little hole in my aluminum window that the drain hole, and they're going up and down in that. And the shingles on the side of my house, they use that little groove on the side of the house. And we say, yes, those are now our mason bees.

Speaker 1: That's why I saw my first one. And when I was living in East Vancouver in British Columbia, I remember every year without fail, I remember the shingles, they'd all come out so amazing. That's correct. Yeah. They are so cute. OK, so for people, I know there's a deadline for enrollment you set every year, and you've expanded the program. Let's see if people want to get involved next year. What do they do?

Speaker 3: Well, they submit an application to the Benton Soil and Water Conservation District, and we determine if their property meets some of the minor criteria and requirements. And then we will install the bee box, as I mentioned before. Your bees will pollinate the crops, and in June, we take the box down.

And you have to promise to avoid using pesticides, provide a nest site, grow host plants like milkweed, and incorporate pollen and nectar plants in your yard. And the key to this other thing is you need to tell others about what you're doing and what we're doing.

Speaker 1: That's magnificent. I'm always impressed. We had Laura Taylor from West Baltimore Soil and Water Conservation District. And it really always impresses me the kind of work that you guys do in terms of on the ground restoration and conservation, but also this educational component. This is really a great program. Maybe tell us a little bit more about some of the...

I know there's listeners who are from other parts of the state or from other states who may not have similar programming. Can you just fill us in a little bit more on some of the other things, other programming that happens here that helps pollinators or helps put pollinator plants in the ground?

Speaker 2: Sure. So the reason we decided to start doing the MasonB Bee Buddies program is because it fits really nicely with our native plant sale. And the outreach we were doing at the time when Jerry approached me with this idea was about pollinators. So we were doing workshops and lectures, hosting lectures and doing tours and talking about having gardens in the community with signage. And we were also focusing on... We have conservation education grants for youth educators. And we were asking folks or giving priority to folks who were doing youth education around pollinators.

So this fit in so nicely with that. So the first thing is that we have this native plant sale that's been going on since the 90s. And it's a way that we can help get out to people who can't get wholesale plants. We get native plants for them and put them in their hands and then they put them in their grounds. So for restoration projects or for backyard gardening or for stream bank erosion control, that kind of thing. So we've been doing that for a very long time.

A lot of bare root trees, shrubs and grasses, ground covers, flowering plants, all of that. So that program has been just growing and expanding into different ways. Like now we're doing a fall festival. Corvouse has a fall festival in September and we've been doing a bulb and seed sale there because that's a great time of year for planting bulbs and seeds. And in February, we've been holding this native plant sale and it's just growing like crazy.

We have over 300, probably around 400 customers that shop with us or orders that are placed of more people than that. And that's a great time for us to outreach about stuff like mason bees and other pollinators and invite members of other members of the community to come and share information like that. And then we do lectures in the winter around those kinds of topics. And lately we've been talking about prairie habitat which is so fantastic for pollinators. And so we are doing a prairie tour on May 6th as part of Natural Areas Celebration Week where we're going to visit an upland prairie, a wet prairie and somebody's backyard prairie.

So people can start thinking about how they can put that kind of landscape, native plant landscape that's so important for native pollinators on the ground and making more connectivity between habitats for our pollinators. So those are some of the things we're doing. We're also doing a prairie plant ID walk. And these are in partnership with Finley Wildlife Refuge, the national, the US Fish and Wildlife Service. So they're partnering with us to bring these learning opportunities to the members of our community.

So those are some of the things. Another really cool thing that we've been able to develop as part of the Bee Buddies program is this Bee Buddy Bundle Citizen Science project. And so, yeah, we've recruited a bunch of volunteers to cut down and bring in diesel stems for us. So if people aren't familiar with diesel, it sort of looks like a devil's pitchfork.

It grows on, I think a bit like that. And it grows in ditches in the sides of fields. And the pioneers brought it across when they came. They used it for carding wool. So it has those spiky, what do you call those things? Floral inflorescences or something. But it has hollow stems. And so it's great for mason bees because in nature, they don't live in nest boxes. They live in naturally occurring cavities. So beetle tunnels and hollow stems. They don't like pithy stems, but the cowpaw snip is another good example of a stem that they can live inside of.

And somebody was telling me for Scythia, but I don't know if that's, I haven't looked inside to see if that's really true. So we're gathering up the diesel stems, making sure that they're about six inches long because if they're too short, then you'll mostly get males. And then bundling them together. And the diameter of the hole should be about 5-16ths of an inch. If it's up to half an inch, that's okay.

Not a lot smaller than that would be good. And then having all of the openings face the same way, bundle them together and hang them in a stable place on an east facing wall or fence post or something with a little protection from the elements. And people are posting those, placing those all around the community. Then on June 1st, when it's time to take them down to protect them from parasites, we gather them back. They're bringing them into us. And any cocoons that are gathered, we use in the Bee Buddies program. Oh, that's great.

Yeah, it's really cool. So we're taking care of them properly. But also we're sharing that data back with anybody who's interested in any of the citizen scientists. What are we finding? Where are we finding it in the community? Are there more parasites in one area or another?

Is there more use of the bundles in some areas than in others? That kind of information we're able to collect through this little program. And it's just a great way to engage kids and families in starting to learn about pollinators and bees other than honeybees.

Speaker 1: That is fantastic. You guys are so busy. It is busy. Yeah. Oh, no, you do it. Okay, we'll take another break and then I got a couple of questions. I ask all our guests. I'm looking forward to hearing your answers.

Fun. Okay, well, we're back. And just before we get into these questions, I think we didn't quite...

There's a lot going on. Soil and water conservation districts everywhere are doing a lot of things that help pollinators, even if they're not direct pollinator programs. And I think on our show notes, we're gonna try and link up to a bunch of them and out to your website. But just give us another kind of initiatives that are just helping.

Speaker 2: That sounds great. One of the things I wanted to mention is my co-worker, Teresa, has been working with Gwendolyn Ellen from OSU on the Integrated Biological Pest Management Initiative. And they did a bunch of workshops about how to create habitat on farm, habitat for pollinators, beneficial insects, parasitoids, all different things.

So that really links really well with helping pollinators. And there's tons of information on our website about that. And I'm going to share some more information that'll be on this page.

So we can talk about that later. But our website is really a good source of information, a great source of ideas and inspiration for landscape designs that support butterflies, pollinators, bees. We have garden designs and many other articles that are helpful to folks and links to other programs. And what plants in the Willamette Valley are good for pollinators and it goes on and on. So I will share more information with you in other ways. Thank you.

Speaker 1: No, it's a good reminder because I think even if you're not in Benton County, your soil and water conservation district is invariably doing a lot of programming that is helping pollinators. And really visit their offices and go to their programming. You're going to learn a lot of them. Thank you. Thanks. Yes. Okay, but I got these questions for you guys. Great.

That's the question. Okay, the first question is book recommendations. Is there a book that you want people to know about or is influential for you when you were starting to learn about pollinators?

Speaker 3: Yeah, my favorite book of all of them generally is the Zersi Society Guide Attracting Native Pollinators. And it's all about the North American bees and butterflies. And the author says that is a step-by-step guide for changing our stewardship of the earth.

It's a tangible way for all people and for all ages to make a difference. And I think the book gives you a general overview of a lot of different things. It has a lot of, it's kind of like a bird guide to bees and butterflies as well, shows you a bunch of things. So it's a general good jumping off point. There's a lot of other books that are out there, but this is one that I think everybody ought to pick up and have in their bookshelf.

Speaker 1: It might be our most recommended book.

Speaker 2: Well, well, for me, I'm not as big of a textbook reader as Jerry is. That's like his go-to reading material. And I'm more of like a novel reader. So I just wanted to say, I was super inspired to learn more about bees by the Secret Life of Bees by Sue Munk Kid, which is really about honey bees.

But it was just such a wonderfully written book and captured my imagination. Then another book that we've used in our program that's worth mentioning, if you're doing any kind of outreach or trying to introduce mason bees to children is Mason Meets a Mason Bee. And it just kind of gives an overview of...

Speaker 1: Mason Meets a Mason Bee? And so that's a good one. It goes, we do a classroom activity with a relay race where the kids get to be mason bees building nests with pollen balls and eggs and mud walls. And so, and then the complimentary thing to that is this Mason Meets a Mason Bee. Is it like a Mason Meets a Mason Bee?

Speaker 2: No, it's Mason a little boy. Oh!

Speaker 3: It's his name. Mm-hmm.

Speaker 2: I think it's a real kid named Mason. Oh, that's awesome.

Speaker 1: Okay, great, thanks. We always looking for kid book suggestions on the show and we've had a few, but this is gonna go on our list. Thank you. Okay, favorite tool for working with pollinators?

Speaker 3: Well, I use a number of tools because all of our VBuddy boxes have been handmade. And so we use everything from power screwdrivers, table saws, to routers and everything in between. So I'm the tool man and I really enjoy just about any tools.

One of our, I guess a favorite tool for cleaning boxes is just a dowel that we put a sharpened point on it to push the cocoons out of the trays.

Speaker 1: Okay, but just because I've got real hands on square versus circular holes.

Speaker 3: It does not make any difference.

Speaker 1: The Mason Bee does not really care. It's the 516th, that's kind of the important factor. So if you wanna do it on a table saw with a square bottom, you can. A 916th router bit is almost impossible to find. 516th.

516th, yes, you have to go metric. And I think I bought the last three router bits in the world off of eBay out of China and treat them with a lot of respect. Jerry is taking bids though.

Speaker 3: I've even asked, there are so many people that wanna make the trays. I've even contacted some of the router bit manufacturers to ask if they wouldn't think about creating a 516th router bit for all of us. No response. We called the Mason bit. The Mason bit.

Speaker 2: The Mason bit. Hey, that's really good. Oh, we're gonna add that to our list of things that we offer. Okay, these tools. Sure, as I was saying earlier, my really best tool is Jerry. Because all the work, so.

Speaker 1: Every soil and water conservation district needs a Jerry.

Speaker 2: Yes, it's so true. Or like three or four of them would be awesome.

Speaker 3: The staff wears me out, I'll tell you.

Speaker 1: Okay, last question is, maybe this is gonna be like a real short answer, is do you have a favorite pollinator?

Speaker 3: Well, yes. It has to be the Mason bit with follow up with the bumble bee. I'm also trying very hard. My yard is full of bumble bee boxes. And maybe someday I'm gonna have one queen bumble bee choose one of my boxes and it'll start a whole new program like the Mason bit. Mason bit is tops.

Speaker 1: We do have to get, I've been meeting, I owe him some work so I can't get him on too soon. But we have to get Ralph Carter on the show, who is the bumble bee nest box king.

Speaker 2: Oh, cool. Until then. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, so I mean, there's just no way I could pick anything other than a Mason bit after participating in this project with Jerry for a while now and just developing such a great love of these little busy bees.

Speaker 3: You know, I had an experience recently where I was able to look at a bee underneath a microscope. And if any of you have the chance, take a Mason bee or any pollinator and look at it under the microscope.

And I think it's gonna open up a whole new world to you and respect for what you see. Those mandibles. Everything. Oh, okay. Wing patterns.

You know, it's just something that you cannot see with the naked eye or a magnifying glass. And again. And their eyes. Yeah. Yeah. If you can do that, please make a step in that direction and take a look at what you see.

Speaker 1: It's been a real pleasure coming down here and talking with you guys. And I'm really always excited to hear about what you're up to.

Speaker 2: Thanks so much for having us on your show.

Speaker 1: Yeah, thank you very much. It's really fun. Yes. Thanks so much for listening. Show notes with information discussed in each episode can be found at pollinationpodcast.oregonstate.edu. We'd also love to hear from you and there's several ways to connect. For one, you can visit our website to post an episode-specific comment, suggest a future guest or topic, or ask a question that can be featured in a future episode. You can also email us at [email protected]. Finally, you can tweet questions or comments or join our Facebook or Instagram communities. Just look us up at OSU Pollinator Health. If you like the show, consider letting iTunes know by leaving us a review or rating.

It makes us more visible, which helps others discover pollination. See you next week.

This week we are joined by Heath Keirstead and Jerry Paul from the Benton Soil and Water Conservation District (BSWCD). Heath is BSWCD’s Communication and Community Engagement Manager and Jerry has been involved with BSWCD as a volunteer and Board Member. PolliNation caught up with Heath and Jerry at the BSWCD office to talk about caring for orchard mason bees (Osmia lignaria) in the spring and their outreach initiative – the Bee Buddies program – that is encouraging stewardship of people cultivating these bees.

Listen in to learn how best to take care of your mason bees, when to place them outside, and how the Bee Buddy program helps the pollinator community.

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“If any of you have the chance, take a mason bee or any pollinator, look at it under the microscope and I think it’s going to open up a whole new world to you.” – Jerry Paul

Show Notes:

  • When is the best time to put out mason bees
  • Why mud preparation is the best thing you can do for your mason bees
  • How to tell if your flowers are ready to be pollinated
  • How to protect the larval mason bees during transport
  • Why the location of the nest box is so important to the mason bee’s success
  • Which plants are the most beneficial to the mason bee
  • Why the Bee Buddies program was started, and what it’s goals were
  • How caring correctly for mason bees can give them a 90% survival rate
  • How the Bee Buddies program is bringing attention to larger environmental issues
  • What the outreach of Bee Buddies looks like
  • How to get involved with Bee Buddies
  • What other organizations are contributing to environmental conservation

“With a mason bee, you can target your crop. They only fly up to about 300 feet from their nest box.“ – Heath Keirstead

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