This isn't a well-thought-out post. I was doing a few yard chores in a futile attempt to avoid doing paperwork, and noticed the buzzing of industrious bees. So I ran (hobbled - back still hurting from wet-kitchen-floor moment) back inside and grabbed the camera.

Observation - not from reading. Maybe you can prove me wrong. Honey bees seem to love small flowers. In the Spring, the cherry blossoms are almost black with bees (Orchard Mason Bees, not honey bees). In the Summer, the lavender plants are covered with honey bees.

Now, in late summer, the sedums are blooming. We've been increasing the dry-tolerant population in our yard, with more sedum plants. I don't know the variety name for this one, the leaves are red and the flowers are pink. They grow very easily, survive cold winters and dry summers. They did well in the Midwest when I lived there. The bees land on the compound flowers, and walk around on them until they seem almost drunk with pollen. Then they fly off.

This is Sedum "Autum Joy". The bees are on it before the flowers are fully open.

They also love Allium (onion family) plants. Currently we havae Chinese Chives (Garlic Chives) in full bloom. Bees also love walking around on these white globes of little flowers. I've noted that bees also like the ornamental alliums, such as Spring blooming Allium moly and the massive early-summer blooming Globemaster Allium. This garlic chives variety was shipped from China, to be grown as a vegetable. The leaves are wider and longer than the American varieties. However, I also have some clusters that I grew as a kid (40 years ago) and discovered the plants - or their descendents - in my parents yard 2 years ago. I brought some here to my own yard. They are smaller, more delicate, than the vegetable-grade plants, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. We chop them finely, and combine them with egg, tofu, and spices, to make Chinese dumplings.

One bee liked this lily. It's near the Chinese Chives, and the other bees definitely prefer the chives.

We have sweet allysum growing close to the garlic chives - the bees are ignoring it!

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Replies to This Discussion

Love the photos!

Have you gotten a massage? I find massage and Tiget Balm do wonders.

Do you know anything about Mason bees? I'm trying to figure out when and where to place their home. Wrote the state etymologist, but I think he's busy dealing with the threat of emerald ash borer and asian longhorned beetle. We already have hemlock wooly adelgid.
Each year I add another little house for the Mason bees. They are fun to watch, and very little effort. They don't make honey, but they are very good pollinators. Since they don't congregate in one big hive, they may not be susceptable to disease - I don't know but it's reasonable to speculate.
I'll try to remember to post my experiences with Mason bees. They can be purchased by mail order, but it's too early (or late, depending how you look at it) to buy them now.
I know most of what you posted Daniel, what I don't know is when to put out a Mason bee house, and where.
Méabh, I think that late winter, in your area, would be the best time. That way they are ready to exit their old tunnels, and new ones would be available for nesting. My bees tell me, by starting to leave their old house. Then I know it's time to give them new ones. This is usually when Andromeda (Japanese Peiris) blooms in our climate. This is also when Daffodils are blooming. I think if you put the houses up earlier, it's OK. Around here, they sell refridgerated Orchard Mason Bees at that time of year as well.

Location - not in the frull sun. I have one on the west side of my house, and more on the south side, but they don't get full sun because they are protected by other structures. I think that North side of a house is not good. East or West is probably best.

Here is a reference.

Home-made bee house, made from scrap wood.

Never replied to this - sorry.  I would use untreated wood.  The treatment may be toxic to the bees.  

Tonya, Glad it arrived!  I hope some grow!  Last year I stuck about a dozen cuttings of similar size into my wine-barrel planters among strawberries chilis and lettuce/radish/onions.  Almost all of them grew.  Some may not have survived this winter tho. The plum seeds would be ideal, will give me something to play with and maybe eat someday!

Resurrected this post.  Thinking about more than mason bees this year.  Honey bees are much more complicated, and there is expense involved.  Some times that's the good thing about a project.  A good project can bring about blissful forgetfulness about the world around us.


Mason bees are compatible with honey bees.  They get along without conflict.  I've been housing mason bees for about 6 years.  This winter is s good time to get out the drill and some pieces of wood and make new houses.


Planting for the bees  - more mints.  This fall I planted a linden tree - from what I've read, bees love linden flower.  We have some wild cherries.  In the Spring, those blossoms are covered by mason bees.  Plus multiple fruit trees, which are pollinated by bees and which bees benefit from greatly.  


We are planning a wildflower area where there is currently some lawn.  Not planned for bees, but it will fit in with the bees, perfectly.


Doubtless, will post more as time passes.  Flowers - and therefore, vegetables, fruits, and most of the trees and bushes that we grow - co-evolved with pollinating insects.  They are part of the same system, and they need each other.  

Heres a miocene epoch bee in amber, from wikimedia commons.




Miocene epoch ranges form 5 to 23 million years ago. Even though that seems like a long time, it's a modern era, with mammals, trees, flowers. Not like now, however - this also from wikipedia



Here's a modern drawing of the honey bee anatomy.  From

Such a small creature to be so complex. Add to that, their complex social structure and communication strategies.  A lot in a small package.

You give me a new perspective on bees. I will be more respectful of them in the future. 

Didn't know about Mason Bees.  I may have seen some and assumed they were flies.  Sounds like they're good in the city.  What is the optimum length of their tunnels?


"I am writing with concerns about the role that neonicotinoid pesticides like clothianidin may play in the growing phenomenon of Colony Collapse Disorder and the threat that these massive honey bee die-offs pose to both the future of the species and to our food supply."

~ Dr. Steven Bradbury, Director of the Office of Pesticide Programs, EPA

Here two helpful sites that may help. 

Save Our Environment Action Center

Natural Enemies: Nature’s Pest Controls




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