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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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August 2018

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

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Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
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Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Cost: Free for members or with Museum admission

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Telephone: 203-438-4519
Contact Name: Emily Devoe
Website »

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Cost: free

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Keeler Library
276 titicus road
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Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
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Cost: $15-$25

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Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge
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On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

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Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

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Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Create a work of art that channels the warmth and fun of summer! Use both real and artificial leaves, flowers, and summer foliage embossed into wet clay to create your own one-of-a-kind...

Cost: $15; $12 member

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Telephone: 203-438-4519
Contact Name: Emily Devoe
Website »

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Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

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

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

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Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

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

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Cost: $125

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


Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
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Cost: $75

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Stamford EMS
684 Long Ridge Rd
Stamford, CT  06905
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Sponsor: Stamford EMS
Telephone: (203) 252-2193
Contact Name: Laura Roberts
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Explore the fun and wild world of color in this workshop focused on creating patterns and designs that trick the eye. All ages

Cost: Free for members or with Museum admission

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


Sponsor: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Telephone: 203-438-4519
Contact Name: Emily Devoe
Website »

More information

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

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

  Join us in the lobby at 7:15pm for an Italian wine tasting by Pera Wines and an art exhibit! Gramophone music in a smartphone world…Contemporary pop and rock tunes...

Cost: $77-$110

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


Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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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
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Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
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Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
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View map »


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

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Trace the life cycle of food at Grace Farms with Community Garden Manager Ashley Kenney, Pastry Chef Leah Jones, and Director of Operations Adam Thatcher. From produce and cut flowers used in the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Grace Farms
365 Lukes Wood Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

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Show Less...

Stamford EMS and Safety4Kids (S4K) are teaming up to present an important summer safety event: a Bike Safety Roundup on Saturday, August 18th at Chelsea Piers from 9am – 10am.  ...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Chelsea Piers Connecticut
1 Blachley Road
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Sponsor: Stamford EMS and Safety4Kids (S4K)
Telephone: 203-968-1118
Contact Name: The Loft at Chelsea Piers Connecticut
Website »

More information

Visit The Aldrich for FREE the Third Saturday of each month! See the latest in contemporary art and participate in family-friendly art-making workshops in The Studio. Family Workshop: Back...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Telephone: 203-438-4519
Contact Name: Emily Devoe
Website »

More information

InSitu is an eight-acre sculpture garden where nature and art dramatically interact. Nestled in the rural countryside near Redding, the property is surrounded by the 312-acre Saugatuck Waterfall...

Cost: $7 per private garden; children 12 & under free.

Where:
Redding, CT


Sponsor: The Garden Conservancy
Telephone: 888-842-2442
Contact Name: Open Days program staff
Website »

More information

Join us for the 4th Annual RidgeCon, a Pop Culture celebration for all ages! A superhero tea and storytime with Mike & Kristin Garguilo, crafts, scavenger hunts, Quidditch practice, VR...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ridgefield Library
472 Main St
RIDGEFIELD, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Friends of the Ridgefield LIbrary
Website »

More information

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

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

The Lewisboro Library’s Nightclub Concert Series has a special treat on Saturday, August 18 – a “Beatles Night” featuring a Beatles tribute band and a Beatles Trivia...

Cost: $30/per person

Where:
Lewisboro Library
15 Main Street
South Salem, NY  10590
View map »


Sponsor: Lewisboro Library
Telephone: 914-875-9004
Contact Name: Liz Gabriele
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

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Cost: Three and Five Class Packages (3 times for $33, 5 times for $42)

Where:
Vary with each class
, CT


Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

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