Guess who found the bookcases in our office?
The mason bees.
I first noticed when I went to the office to pull out a reference book, and found the telltale signs of excavation: little wood chips on the shelf. But it was night then, so there were no bees around, and I thought perhaps I was just being fanciful. Because why would the mason bees want to nest inside our flat?
The next day, though, I heard the buzzing and went to check it out. Sure enough…
…there was a bee happily excavating.
Here’s a closer look:
“Well, maybe it’s just one bee,” I thought. Nope. It’s at least half a dozen. I sat at my desk that afternoon to work on my laptop and monitor the situation, and a stately parade of bees moved past, in and out of the open veranda door. They seem quite enamored of the bookcases, even though the holes are few and far between.
And it’s not just house hunting, either — they’re settling in. This little lady is backed into her nest hole and laying an egg.
This discovery led to a small crisis of indecision on my part, namely: should I tell my wife? She’s normally tolerant of my love of creepy crawlies, and even finds it cute much of the time, but it was possible this might cross the line.
It did. “They’re WHAT?” she said when I told her. “No no no.”
But then I showed her this:
…which is a tidily sealed, completed nest burrow. That burrow is the culmination of a female bee’s short adult life, spent madly gathering nectar for food and mud for nesting, in order to seal her eggs in with all that they need to survive until next spring’s emergence. What are we going to do, drill it out?
“Okay, we have to either make or buy them a better home,” she said. I’m in total agreement. My little colony is exponentially larger this year — it seems to have reached a critical mass all of a sudden — and apparently we have a bit of a housing crunch. Nothing to do but offer them more space, and an alternative to our bookcases.
Now the big question is whether or not these burrows will be successful. Nest location is critical, requiring direct sunlight and/or sufficient warmth at the right part of spring to “wake” the pupated larvae and induce them to hatch out and then dig out. These shelves get direct sunlight in the winter, not the spring. I’m worried for the little proto-bees inside.
But I guess we’ll see what happens.