To build your own bee house, drill a series of holes 3/8 inches in diameter (smaller-diameter holes will be used by leafcutter bees) 3 to 6 inches deep in pine or fir 4-by-4s or glued-up boards. Space the holes about 3/4 inch apart; the number and design are up to you. Paint and decorate as you wish. Mount the house firmly to fixed surface (the bees don't like to swing), where it will get morning sun. Mason bees are active in the spring, so provide houses from early spring through August. Holes that are being used will be plugged with mud.
Bee houses of this type will not attract Africanized honeybees or other social bees because honeybees need a softball-size cavity or larger to build their honeycomb in.
The British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture says orchard mason bees occur in woodlands and forest edges. They appear in early spring when the first bushes and trees bloom. Cherry, pear and apple are particularly attractive, but other nectar and pollen sources include quince, laburnum and blueberry. Osmia bees are fast fliers and display a high bloom visitation rate. Its high activity, even under poor weather conditions, makes this insect pollinator particularly attractive for early blooming crops.
I've installed mine! Thank you, Cat. You've taught me a new gardening trick!
Torula Chanlett-Avery and her husband, Chris, own the charming Groundworks Nursery in Hinton. Torula is writing a very informative blog, "What's Growing On" (http://groundworksnursery.blogspot.com/), highlighting "tried-and-true plants that keep growing on past the hype-and-shine of all the new branded plants."
She notes that a few of the new and exciting plants will find their praises sung on the blog, but "we're on the lookout for the backbone plants that keep giving back long after your initial efforts."
On March 15, she focused on what she calls her "Tennessee Spirea," which came to West Virginia with them when they moved from central Tennessee in the mid-'70s. I'm looking forward to reading about their other "favorites" in the future.
Groundworks Nursery is along W.Va. 3 in Hinton. For directions, visit www.groundworksnursery.com or call 304-466-4440.
This week in the garden
According to the WVU Extension Service garden calendar, it's time to apply crabgrass control, and to plant potatoes, raspberries, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, blackberries, peas, fruit trees and collards. It's also time to seed kale, onions, beets, radishes, carrots, leaf lettuce and parsnips. It's time to start a compost pile, and to refresh the mulch in landscape beds. Also, apply pre-emergent landscape weed control. Later this month, seed new lawns and plant summer-flowering bulbs. The early spring has allowed us to move up many tasks we typically did in May.
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.