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Bee prepared for pollinators, insect expert says

The Wild Birds Unlimited store in Gardiner hosts a presentation by Northwest mason bee expert Bob Logue at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 30.

Logue's family friendly talk is on the benefits of mason bees and how to attract and keep them in your garden. Call 360-797-7100 to reserve a place, as seating is limited. A contribution of $5 holds a seat for this presentation.

Mason bees are small black bees native to the United States and Canada. They are about two-thirds the size of honey bees. They were pollinating flowers long before honey bees were introduced by the colonists. Mason bees look for either natural or manmade cavities to provide housing.

Bee populations are on the decline, which has serious implications.



Food and clothing

One-third of the food people eat, clothing made of natural fibers such as cotton and flax, some medicines and many beverages are the direct result of bee pollination.

Bees are not the only pollinators on the decline. Many butterfly, moth, bat, bird and mammal species that act as pollinators also are experiencing waning populations.

Loss of habitat is a major factor from the destruction of native plants, and pesticides kill both the pests and the pollinators.

"One way to help the bees is by planting different kinds of native flowers," said Christie Lassen of Wild Birds Unlimited.

"Even a small area or several pots with a variety of plants that bloom throughout the growing seasons will help.

"Practicing organic gardening methods will also help bee populations survive. And we can provide nesting sites for the native mason bees."



Build a nest

"To attract them, you can purchase a ready-made bee house or create a nest by drilling holes in a board," said Lassen. "The ideal nest hole is 5/16-inch in diameter and 4 to 6 inches deep."

Once a mason bee has found its home, it will fill a hole with food and the female deposits one egg into the hole. The hole is then plugged with mud collected by the female.

Egg laying continues from spring until June when the adults die. The egg hatches into a larva, eats the food, spins a cocoon that transfers into a pupa and, by the start of fall, it is an adult.

The adult stays inside the chamber until spring when it emerges to complete the cycle.

For more information about attracting bees and other pollinators to your yard, visit Wild Birds Unlimited, 275953 Highway 101 in Gardiner, call 360-797-7100 or visit the Web site at wbu.com.





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