There’s a lot of talk about the many dangers facing bees in the United States and how important these pollinators are to the environment and agriculture. But when we talk about bees, we tend to focus on just one type: honey bees.
In fact, honey bees and other kinds of social bees make up just 2% of the more than 20,000 different types of bees in the world.
A new book for kids is calling attention to some of these lesser-known bees, namely: the mason bee. The aptly named Turn This Book Into a Beehive includes 20 different experiments that bring the world of bees to life -- and invites you to literally turn its pages into a hive for local bees.
Author Lynn Brunelle was in Milwaukee for a series of events in the area, and she joined Lake Effect's Joy Powers to talk about the book and how to help out local bees.
Here's how to make your own hive for mason bees. (Heads up: You're going to make a LOT of paper tubes.)
Step One: Start with a piece of paper. The book actually provides really great paper, but if you're like producer Joy Powers and the author of the book comes in and tells you the tubes are too wide, you may run out of that paper and need to use the scrap paper, readily available at your desk.
Step Two: Grab a pencil/chopstick/pen and start to make tubes by rolling the paper around it. They can be different sizes, but make sure the tubes are pretty tight (similar to a straw).
Step Three: TAPE. So much tape. Tape the seam on each of the tubes, then tape up the ends of each tube. This is so wasps and other invasive bugs don't get into the tubes. Use as much tape as necessary. If you're like Powers, this will mean using enough tape to affix a bull to a ceiling. She went through two rolls.
Step Four: You're going to end up making a lot of paper tubes. So many tubes that people at the local coffee shop you're working in will ask:"What on earth are you doing?"
Step Five: Use the jacket of the book or a large piece of poster board (Powers used the book's cover). Bend the cover/poster board, so it makes a tear drop shape. Fold over the two ends of the poster board/cover and tape it together. Trace the shape of the tear drop onto another piece of poster board, then grab that tape again (preferably duct tape or packing tape). Tape the back onto the jacket, and make sure that it's air tight.
Step Six: Fill the jacket with all those paper tubes you slaved over. Remember the bees that you'll be helping and how great your garden is going to look once those pollinators move in.
Step Seven: You probably don't have enough tubes to fill that baby, so grab some more scrap paper and get back to making tubes.
Step Eight: Feel good about yourself! Your plants are going to look wonderful, unless you put that beehive in your office next to the dying plants that people keep forgetting to water. Mason bees can't fly through glass and definitely won't be making it up to the seventh floor of a building. So put that hive outside.