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Is a solitary bee a mason bee?

Confusion surrounding solitary bees seems to be getting worse. Recently, I ran into an acquaintance in a local supermarket. The conversation went something like this: “Hey Kathy,” I said, “did you finally get your hive set up?” “No, we decided to wait another year. But we got solitary bees! We put up a box.” “Great!” I […] Read more

Pollinators are not going to change, so we have to

It is easy to blame the loss of bee habitat on “them”—them being industrial farms, expansive orchards, sprayed fields, and freeways kept neat with herbicides. But in truth, our modern cities and suburbs are just as bad. We have covered the land with mulch, decking, concrete, flagstones, bricks, pavement, and lawns. None of these things […] Read more

Pollinators and vegetable gardens

Yesterday a reader asked if having a pollinator garden would help her vegetable garden. The answer to this is somewhat complex, depending on what you are trying to grow. There are general rules and exceptions. If you are growing any kind of cucurbit—including melons, squash, cucumbers, zucchini, and gourds—pollinators are absolutely essential. Some are notoriously […] Read more

Make room for mason bees

My first shipment of orchard mason bees arrived in shiny little tubes that look like drinking straws, packed in a box that weighs next to nothing. So why am I messing with mason bees in the midst of a million honey bees? The answer is partly because they’re native—I encourage native species whenever I can—and […] Read more