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What’s All the Buzz About?

Mason bees make great neighbors––and how you can help add them to your area



A mason bee at work on her "home." She'll lay an egg, put in some pollen for late-night snacks, seal off the chamber with mud, and repeat the process until the reed is filled.

Photo by Eileen Kumpf

“There’s one bad thing about summer,” said my four-year-old daughter gloomily. “Bees again.”

That was years ago, back in the days honeybees were so abundant we could worry about stepping on them barefoot. Back in the days every clover blossom drooped with the weight of the bees crawling over them; when the only drones were male bees who, according to science, didn’t pull their weight in the hive; back when a beekeeping friend of mine ran a clear plastic pipe from outside into a hive in his kitchen so he could see his bees up close, to the non-appreciation of his family. 

Since the end of the 20th century, the worldwide honey-bee population has plummeted so low that barefoot kids now try to avoid bees for the bees’ sake instead of their own. Pesticides, climate change, and a mysterious bee virus appear to be the main cause of the decline. As with so many global environmental disasters, the main way ordinary people can help is by wringing their hands and screaming. Ordinary people can also raise mason bees.

Mason bees aren’t as picturesque as honeybees. They don’t make honey. They’re non-communal and lay their eggs in holes instead of interesting, educational hives. Also, they have housefly-looking wings. On the other hand, mason bees don’t sting. According to one website, they’re “very friendly and gregarious.” If you wanted to carry one around, you could. (I’m not saying you should.) More important, they’re wonderful pollinators.

Twenty mason bee cocoons are in my refrigerator right now. I ordered them online from CrownBees.com, receiving what look like olive pits wrapped in burlap. Eight are female, and 12 male (“nature’s natural ratio,” according to the website). I’d love to slice one open with an Exact-O knife as “research,” but I don’t want to waste any of the females. 

When the weather is consistently warm, I’ll take the cocoons outside and park myself alongside, eagerly waiting to see them hatch. This will take way longer than I’d expected, so I’ll go inside to get some iced coffee and forget about the cocoons. By the time I remember them a few days later, the bees will have hatched and flown away, and I can turn my attention to making a couple of mason bee houses where they—or other bees—can lay their eggs.

Many websites give directions for making your own bee houses. Most of these also provide hysterically obsessive details. To improve your chances, diaper each larva! Harvest the cocoons with platinum bee-harvesting tweezers! I don’t want to scare you off, so I’ll let you do your own research. You can find good instructions at crownbees.com, the honeybeeconservancy.com, or masonbeecentral.com. It’s up to you to choose how involved to get. 

Here’s what I did last year: I bought the special egg-laying tubes, packed them into a coffee can, and stashed the can in a blueberry bush. Four mason bees set up house in it, which I thought was decent for a first time. But instead of harvesting the cocoons and overwintering them in my refrigerator, I decided that Mother Nature would do a better job. I left the can outside, and at some point it fell out of the bush and got covered with snow. Mother Nature didn’t pick up the job where I’d left off, which is why I bought my own cocoons a few months ago.

But this time I’m going to follow all the directions and build a super-perfect bee house. It will have a roof, a parlor, and a TV room. Mason bees will line up to get inside. And next spring, when you realize that the planet has been saved, you’ll know whom to thank.

 

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December 2018

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

The Sanctuary Series celebrates the Holiday Season on Sunday afternoon, December 16, with "Bach for the Holidays" featuring keyboardist Anthony Newman performing selected works on piano and organ...

Cost: $15 to $50

Where:
South Salem Presbyterian Church
111 Spring Street
South Salem, NY  10590
View map »


Sponsor: The Sanctuary Series
Telephone: 203-550-5992
Contact Name: Mary Jane Newman
Website »

More information

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Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Vanessa Williams, the multi-platinum recording artist and actress from Chappaqua will headline a holiday benefit concert for San Miguel Academy of Newburgh (SMAN) on December 18 at 7:00 p.m. at...

Cost: $100

Where:
Chappaqua Performing Arts Center
480 Bedford Road
Chappaqua, NY  10514
View map »


Sponsor: Orange Bank & Trust Company

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

December 19th at 4:00 PM. Open to all ages. Decorate holiday cookies with icing, candies, and other treats! This event is free and no registration is required. Co-sponsored with the NS Recreation...

Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

It’s a night of holiday favorites with The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra! This show features classics like “Sleigh Ride,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little...

Cost: $40

Where:
Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Moffly Media Evening of Art, Wine & Jazz Series, Holiday Series
Telephone: 203-438-5795
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Facilitated by Nina Bertolino This program will meet every other Wednesday from 10:30 - 12:30 on the following dates: September 12th & 26th, October 10th & 24th, November 7th & 21st, December 5th...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

EVERY THURSDAY | 7:30 PM - 10:00 pm Music | Spoken Word | Comedy | More Hosted by Don Lowe Hunt Hill Farm is excited to announce OpenMic night every Thursday night.  Please stop by to...

Cost: donation

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

More information

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Create works of art that inspire, awe, and excite in this daylong workshop celebrating the tricks and tools employed by abstract artists. From sculpture to painting, use a number of materials from...

Cost: $75; $67.50 member

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

December 22nd at 1:00 PM. Open to all ages. Create ornaments out of popsicle sticks such as popsicle snowflakes and more! Free and no registration required. For questions, you can email the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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