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Monday, March 25 2013

There are no bees in the mason house yet, but it's still early in the season. I haven't given up hope. Maybe it takes the lone female bee a while to settle on where to establish her home. After all, she has to build the nest, collect the pollen, and care for her young by herself. She'd want to pick the perfect place. Having the house right next to the kids' sandbox might not help either. We'll see.


In the meantime, it's time to start planting. For Christmas, I received a vegetable-garden terrarium to try my luck at growing fruits and vegetables from seed, rather than buying plants to transplant into the yard. Yesterday, I created my mini garden. The box had everything I needed, from germination disks (which expanded into soil when I added water) to five packs of seeds to a bag of decorative gravel. They even threw in a little plastic cow to add that farm touch.

After I'd prepped the soil and laid out the gravel, I planted seeds for strawberries, green beans, lettuce, and mini carrots. With any luck, in a couple of months, I'll have enough miniature vegetables to make myself a miniature salad.


While I wait, the kids are trying their own hand at gardening. Target had mini greenhouses in their dollar section a couple of weeks ago. It seemed like a foolproof way to have the kids see fast results before they could lose interest. Sure enough, the seeds germinated within a few days, and the kids are currently growing their own cilantro and basil.

The cilantro, in particular, is thriving. Too bad I'm not growing tomatoes in my mini-garden. Then we'd be all set to make salsa. Still, I can't wait to harvest our first set of crops, even if it's all in miniature.

Posted by: Staci McLaughlin AT 03:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 11 2013

Now that March is in full swing and the weather is consistently warmer, I need to find a good place to hang my Mason house.

It's not a house for people, or even birds, but rather, for bees -- non-stinging Mason bees to be exact.

I wasn't that familiar with Mason bees until I saw a picture of the house and started reading. Turns out Mason bees are major pollinators, which should help my garden and neighboring ones, as well. They like to nest in holes or tubes and are a solitary bee. No worker bees hang around the house. They don't build a traditional hive. Instead, the female builds a nest by herself and lays her eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the bees mate and the males die. Sorry, guys!


If I can get a female to move into the bee house, it'll be fun for the kids (and myself) to watch the bee set up house and raise her young. The trick is how to attract the bees. How will they know the house is meant for them? Do we even have Mason bees in our yard? They do well in harsh winters and tend to live in the north, so who knows if they even like sunny California.


I suspect a pesky yellow jacket will take up residence in the Mason house instead. Or one of the dozens of funnel-weaver spiders we have in our yard. The house is perfect for the way they spin their webs. Regardless of who moves in, it'll be a fun experiment to see if we can create a house full of Mason bees.

Posted by: Staci McLaughlin AT 11:50 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email