Promoting Mason Bees in your community

Many mason bee keepers have spread the word about this exciting hobby through community groups or schools.  Here is a short note on how Environmental Youth Alliance in Vancouver, BC is making a difference.  Program manager Erin Udal writes :
 “EYA’s pollinator outreach aims to teach people about native bees and become stewards in their own communities.

We have been working on initiatives for the past 7 years and are leaders in conservation programs and projects across Vancouver.

Each year we raise mason bee cocoons at our Insect Hotel, a large eco-converted telephone booth located at Oak Meadows Park.  We share the cocoons and give away mason bee houses with the community.

We host about 10 workshops each year at schools and community centers in the spring when mason bees are hatching and then in the fall when their cocoons are brought in to be cleaned. Youth love this opportunity to connect with nature in their own backyards, and become stewards themselves with a new mason bee house to look after!   We have photo permission to use this photo for our organization, so feel free to post! “

 For more information about their work go to Environmental Youth Alliance

Feature photo of a community group setting up a mason bee home.

4 replies on “Promoting Mason Bees in your community

  • Ted Leischner

    I am concerned about the impact of full out promotion and production of one species of mason bee on the well being of our hundreds of other species of native pollinators that live on our ecologically sensitive west coast islands, a context quite a bit different than that on the mainland. Leading world pollination ecologists make it very clear that future food production and ecosystem health will require pollination by ALL two hundred species wild bees and hundreds of species of flower visiting flies that have been our pollination mechanism for thousands of years and now are a vital pollination insurance policy if they are cared for properly. Goulson 2015 suggest that focusing on one or two species of pollinators is risky business. Our wild bumblebees continue to fade away despite the fact that their full set of adaptations make them exceedingly better pollinators than honey bees or one species of mason bee when it come to pollinating our native flowers and our crops. Producers tell me that 90% of the pollination of their blueberries on the islands is as result of bumblebees, not mason bees or honeybees.
    Fine to push mason bees because they do have a role to play in their part of the blooming season but increasing nectar and pollen production over our whole landscape is urgently required if we want to keep ALL our pollinators, especially our bumblebees.

    • Margriet

      Thank you for your interesting comments. You cover a very broad range of topics: promotion of native pollinators; food production from more than just a few bee species; the problem of using just a few species for crop pollination; bumble population decline; pollination of native plants; pollination of blueberries by bumble bees and improving nectar and pollen sources in the entire landscape. Each topic you mentioned is an important one and each deserves a response. I will focus on the overall benefit of engaging people in this wonderful hobby of keeping mason bees.
      I fully agree with you that mason bees should not be the only native pollinator to be pursued and studied. I look at it this way. I think the interest in managing mason bees for pollination of fruit trees and blueberries is very exciting since this interest is the key to teaching people about bees. Not just mason bees, not just honey bees and not just bumble bees, but all bees. This is what I have seen over and over again. People learn about mason bees and then they observe other bees in their gardens. They ask “what bee is that?”. From here they are into the wonderful world of bees. It is all about teaching people about bees through their interest in mason bees. Dr. Margriet

        • Margriet

          Hello Ted, I usually answer people’s questions on ‘what insect is this?’. Mostly they are interested in whether it is a bumble bee or a honey bee or a Megachilidae for example. Or even whether it is a fly or a wasp or a bee. I point them to my book “Pollination with Mason Bees” which covers these generalities. To identify bees to species, is difficult. One needs a dissecting scope in a lot of instances. It would be good if someone in Canada would have the job of looking after the taxonomy of Canadian bees. I don’t believe there is a person who is responsible for this. If you have any suggestions, I would be glad to hear them. Dr. Margriet


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