Saturday, October 14, 2017

Mason bee tree

One year we arrived on Saltspring to find our gardener-neighbour had installed little wooden blocks, like tiny birdhouses, around the perimeter of his property. They were mason bee boxes, he enthusiastically told us, meant to encourage mason bees to hang around his garden and pollinate his fruit trees.

This trip, soon after our arrival, John summoned me to the garden after he'd made a quick tour. "You have to see this!" he said. It turns out we now have our own mason-bee accommodation. Unbeknownst to us, one of the trees we planted nearly two decades ago died over the summer, and the mason bees moved in. All the way up and down its trunk are little holes, just like the ones our neighbour drilled in wood blocks to make homes for his pollinators.

It's too bad about the tree, but it never got around to producing the nuts it was supposed to during its lifetime anyway. We will leave it for the mason bees; thanks to their efforts, they have not just a mason bee house but a whole apartment block!

John spotted this tree trunk riddled with holes in our Saltspring garden a few days ago. It looked like somebody had been using it for BB gun practice. 

A closer look revealed that insects had drilled holes into this now-dead trunk.

The holes are just like the ones mason bees make to nest in, so we can only conclude they spotted the dead tree and moved in. Pollination of the nearby apple trees should be guaranteed! All photos by John.

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