Mason Bee House… 2016

I don’t have a big write up about this, but here is a little update. This is the Mason Bee house I made last year. It is just a cedar 6×8 with a piece of scrap cedar deck board for the roof.
I had my doubts that it was actually going to be used, but sure enough, last year a few holes were filled. This year, it is starting to become a full house.

I don’t bring this into a warmer area over winter, it is just screwed to the fence with a few deck screws. I figure that since these are native bees, they should be able to handle our weather here. I am just providing a pre-built home where there was probably one removed to build human homes.

If you have room, and the ability, and the tools… “Build” yourself a Mason bee house. There are all kinds of plans online, but the basics are 5/16″ holes. I don’t remember the optimum depth of the holes, so you’ll have to google. Mine are probably about 4 inches, give or take. I put a few different size holes in mine, to see if they only used the 5/16. The 3/8 holes seem to also be used, but only lower down. The ones under the roof overhang are very vacant…so just use your best judgement.
One last thing before I leave this post… My best friend and I have started an Etsy Shop. So if you have some time, please go and check it out, give us a few likes, and if you see anything you like, order away. Any little bit would be immensely helpful and very much appreciated. We are just getting started, so check back. We will also do custom work, so shoot us a message and we can try and work out something. I will also be updating here if we list anything really exciting… Our Shop name is IcebergEmpire… Here are a couple shop type shots:

Making a Bee Waterer


Its cold and windy and snowy and very very wintery outside, so you may be wondering why I am posting about bees in January? (Okay, when I wrote this, it was cold and gross out, but we are currently in the midst of a lovely chinook and it was +7 out today!)

Well, because I have the Spring Fever.

Also, last year I noticed a few drowned bees in a bucket of water I had left laying around. Clearly they were thirsty and ended up drowning. So here we are at dreaming about spring and summer, and thinking of the bees.

Continue reading “Making a Bee Waterer”

Mason Bee House Update

I don’t remember if I wrote about the quick Mason Bee house that I made earlier this spring or not, but I checked on it the other day and look!!!

  
Some of the holes are starting to get blocked off! 

  

In the holes that mama-mason bee is still working on, you can see the goodies she is collecting for her little babies. I am so so glad I decided to drill some holes in a block of cedar and put it out on my fence. This project cost me nothing but some time and effort. The cedar is a 6×8 left over from a fence or deck project from my fiancé’s work, and so is the piece of cedar deck board that makes up the roof. Then I just borrowed his drill and made a bunch of different sized holes and screwed the whole thing up into the fence in the side yard where there isn’t much activity.

I totally recommend doing the same! Mason bees are solitary and really look more like flies than bees. You probably won’t even notice all their hard work pollinating your garden, but seeing the holes in this mason bee house slowly being filled is kind of rewarding in a weird/I don’t know how to explain it way.

Mason bees play a large roll in pollination in this part of the world. Here is the Wikipedia link to more information about them if you are interested. 

Mice!!

November 23, 2014:

This morning, I woke up to my cats hunting.

I’m so proud, but I feel the need to cheer them on from on top of a chair.

I swear I’m a country girl, but mice just give me the heeby jeebies. I have toned down the screaming when I see one now.

Back in September, I thought I had sealed up every possible entry into the house with steel wool and sealant… But apparently not. These mice are brave. and their every move is being stalked by my precious felines.

“Precious Felines” makes me sound like a crazy cat lady doesn’t it? Well, I guess I kind of am, so we’ll go with it.

I opened my cupboards to help the kitties out, and there was a tail hanging down on the broken water line to the fridge… *shutter*  So I think some peppermint oil on cotton balls, and removal of that stupid water line that hasn’t worked in years is in order. Also a cleaning of every last crevice in my house.

I was worried that the cats wouldn’t take care of the mouse problem we seem to inevitably get every time the temperature drops. They were feral kittens, but I scooped them up away from their mom at the perfect age (8 weeks… don’t worry, I’m not a baby snatcher) to turn them into amazing house cats. (If you need a kitten, let me know, my parents live at the end of a no-exit road, and poor unsuspecting cats and kittens get dumped there all the time… Why can’t people just step up and take care of their pets?!?!) They were like young teenagers and feeling invincible and ready to take on the world… and very easy to win over with free food, and cuddles. I was worried they wouldn’t know how to catch a mouse, let alone kill one.

But there they are, stalking every corner in my kitchen like a well oiled team. (Plus they have caught two that I know of so far)

 

Update Today (December 7): I picked up peppermint oil! I dropped the peppermint oil on some cotton balls and placed them in all the known mouse areas last week. We haven’t heard anything from them. I no longer wake up to see my cats hunting my cupboard bases (or that pesky waterline that is more trouble than it is worth and will probably just stay there forever). You used to hear random scratching in the walls sometimes, closely followed by a cat running to whatever area it happened it, but none of that in the last week. Hopefully this was the non-toxic cure to the mouse problem. I’ll test it out in our garage next. There has been rodent activity in there too. Traps are only good if you have the time to change them when they catch something… I just want the damn mice to find a different home. Does anyone know of any other good mouse deterrents?

Rhubarb Harvesting

This year, I have some lofty rhubarb dreams. I was getting worried that I wouldn’t be able to try out all the ideas I have floating around in my head (and on my Pinterest feed), since my backyard rhubarb doesn’t produce a ton. But then I went home to visit my parents this weekend and all hope has been restored. I mean, like check this mammoth out!

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It is about as tall as I am (5’6″) and I can hardly get my hand around some of the stalks. This isn’t even the only planting either! I had 5 others to harvest from, although they are not as gigantic.

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I will have to find the scale later and update you on the weight of this harvest, but I think it is safe to say that I will be able to make all my rhubarb dreams come true this year.

Just a final thought: I only really intend to use the smaller stalks, the large one in the photo above broke off while I was digging around in the plant, so we cleared it out. Also, while I was digging around for rhubarb, look what I spotted:

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Because I will have to wait until I get back to my own house to freeze or otherwise preserve this harvest, I did some googling to find the best method of prolonging the rhubarbs freshness. If you leave 1-2 inches of the leaf on the stalk, it helps keep it from wilting so much. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it works out!

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