Fun Activity for Scientists and Gardeners of All Ages

While clearing the valerian “forest” on the bike barn path (also known as the snake bed), I was wishing something could be made out of the plant material, such as fabric. Then the thought occurred: hollow tubes, these could be mason bee homes!

Here is a video by our very own Neighborhood Naturalist about mason bees.

Anyone can make a simple structure for native bees out of valerian or other hollow stalks bundled together. You can use a can, or build a box, or even tie them together with string. Place them in a sheltered place where they will be warmed by the south east sun in winter. The mason bees are nesting by early summer (now), but other native bees also use hollow stalks in a similar way. See this article for how to build your own native bee nesting place. The ‘valerian wagon’ is at the east end of the driveway just before reaching the hugelkultur. It will be there for a few days. Strip stalks of leaves and bundle. You can see a mason bee house on Valerie and Richard’s front porch. Each node is a wall, or closed end. Be sure to have an open end and a closed end on your tubes. They will not nest in tubes without a closed end. It is ok to have varied sized tubes. Go for a size similar to Valerie’s mason bee house, it does not need to be exact.

hollow valerian stalk
Valerian plant
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