This is a win-win solution that helps your garden and your local bee population to grow.
Not sure if beekeeping is for you? This is a new solution for gardeners who need bee pollination services in their backyard sanctuary this spring but don’t necessarily want to go full throttle into becoming beekeepers.
Now you can rent your bees for the season, at least in one part of the USA. A company called Rent Mason Bees, based in Washington state, has put a new spin on how to get humans and bees to interact in order to pollinate plants. This is good for the bees, good for the plants and good for humans.
If people love their short-term bee experience for a rental fee, they may decide the following year to take the leap and become beekeepers. Solitary beekeeping is much less complicated than honeybee beekeeping, as these are wild bees.
Mason bees are known to be excellent orchard pollinators, according to the US Forest Service. You can count on them to do a fine job pollinating any fruit trees or berry bushes in your garden. Leafcutter bees are better with vegetables, and they are for rent as well.
This 4:24-minute long video shows an expert giving six essential tips for successfully raising mason bees.
Some benefits of renting these sweet and docile bees are that they aren’t aggressive, so they don't sting humans. They help to fertilize your garden while they lay their bee eggs to grow their own populations.
Leaf cutters and mason bees don’t have queens or honey to obsess over. They are solitary bees and are fertile females.
The mason kit from Rent Mason Bees costs around $60 and contains what you need to host these sweet bees in your garden. You get a mason nesting block, a packet of flower seeds, a bag of clay, a wood house you can hang on a surface, and most important, 60 mason bee cocoons in an emergence tube.
Pick an area where lots of sunlight filters in and set the house up there. These bees love to get warmed by the morning sun so they can fly around all day. Once you hang the house, place the mason bee nesting block inside, remove the tape from the emergence tube and set it next to the nesting block.
These busy little bees will pollinate your garden from March to June and will lay their babies in the nesting box. In June, Rent Mason Bees will email you, so you take the bees into your garage or basement in order to protect them from predators. By September the mason bees will be fully formed in their cocoons, and you can send them back to be cared for during winter months. After you are finished renting them, the bees are taken the following year to pollinate crops at local farms.
If you love flowers, gardening and growing vegetables, this is a perfect short term alliance that will enrich you and your garden. It will also do you good to know you’ve helped some bees to live in a protected space where they could forage nectar and pollen and raise their young in a safe environment… much like we humans wish to do.
Are any other rent-a-bee offers available anywhere? If you know of one, please share with us over on our Facebook page.