Q: Do you know a source for mason bees in Georgia? I have a friend on the West Coast who swears by them for increased crops.
A: Mason bees are a terrific substitute for honeybees when you have a fruit or vegetable garden. Unlike honeybees, they are solitary and make nests in hollow stems or tubes. No one sells them locally to my knowledge. Your best bet is to buy them online. They will arrive in paper tubes containing several cocoons. The best housing is translucent paper tubes inserted in a short piece of four inch diameter plastic pipe. Mount the pipe to your garage or shed wall, under the overhang. Mason bees are active in spring and make cocoons for their larvae to hibernate in during summer and winter. You can remove the tubes in summer to see how many cocoons you have and to inspect for predators and parasites. Good sources for bees and their housing include Crown Bees (www.crownbees.com) and Knox Cellars (www.knoxcellars.com).