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Adopt Gentle Bees for Your Garden
by Lorraine Mennen
February 7, 2016

Gardeners everywhere are buzzing about the gentle orchard mason bees (Osmia lignaria) – for blooming good reason. A native cousin to the European honey bee, the mason bee is an excellent pollinator. Orchard growers would need an abundant number of honeybees – up to 120,000 for instance to pollinate an acre of apple trees. On the other hand our efficient mason bee could do the same job with a small team of 1,200. Gardeners like myself, who are deathly allergic to wasp stings are thrilled to know these little hard working bees don’t swarm and almost never sting because they don’t have a hive of honey to protect. Posting up nesting houses in your home gardens to attract and encourage native bees (both mason bees and leafcutter bees) will provide help to our overworked honey bees.

Your gardening friends at Pathways to Perennials have found a way to increase the population of these effective pollinators and are happy to include you in our mission. We have brought in bee families with their attractive homes and have them available for adoption – your own baby bees. Helping bees and other creatures is not just about creating feeding stations. It is about building them a home and creating a dynamic biodiversity where they can thrive. With a bit of planning, we can help all bees thrive.

The mason bee will hatch first and can pollinate up to 2,000 blossoms per day. The leafcutter bees, hatch after the mason bees, are equally important pollinating wildflowers, fruits and vegetables. When the leafcutter bee is ready to line its nest it will cut a crescent or almost circular shaped hole in a leaf from a plant in your garden and will use it to make a cylindrical cavity that looks like a cigar. Yes perfectionist gardeners you may see a few holes in leaves but the slight damage does not harm the plant. Like mason bees these guys are gentle and can be observed without the fear of being stung.

75% of the food we eat needs pollinators to provide us with a harvest. Together, they pollinate flowers, fruits, herbs and vegetables and are used by commercial growers for pollinating blueberries, onions, carrots and alfalfa. Mason bee and leaf cutter bee cocoons can be purchased to enhance the quantity of pollinators in your gardens. Cocoons can take 4 – 6 weeks to emerge. Families can raise their own bees to help our dying honey bee populations which are important for the growth and reproduction of plants and flowers. Can you imagine a world without fruit or flowers, or even coffee or chocolate? I bet not. Thanks to the incredible work of pollinators such as bees, we have a great variety of food and flowers to eat and enjoy. Raising your own bees is a fun and productive way families can contribute to our honeybee situation.

Families, gardeners, teachers and students of all ages can participate. This simple to use adoption kit is now available for spring – with a crib to hatch the cocoons, a safe house for protection from predators and inclement weather and a bundle of reeds for the future baby bees to hatch from. Adopting the pollinators for your home or school gardens will help our environment and help our bees to protect all things growing that we enjoy every day.

Limited quantities are available, so please call to place your order at 905-939-8680. Pathways to Perennials Boutique Garden Centre is located at 4681 Lloytown/Aurora Road in Pottageville for over 20 years now. For more information or to attend our Adopt-a-Bee Workshop, please contact or visit our website

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