Thursday, February 7, 2013

Book Review - The Orchard Mason Bee

In the Backyard Bees workshop at the Eastern Kentucky Beekeeping School event there were several book suggestions. One of those books was The Orchard Mason Bee by Brian L. Griffin. Since I had already considered construction a nesting block for mason bees I was excited to read a book that was suggested by someone who had already done so.

The book is fairly short, at only 128 pages. Do not let that make you believe that it is short on information, however. In fact, I found the book both informational and enjoyable. The book is filled with first hand accounts of the author's experiences, which I prefer to the more scientific-based books one often finds on such a topic. That isn't to say that there isn't plenty of science in the book, because there certainly is. It is just presented in a way that ties in nicely with the author's own observations.

The books covers most topics one could hope for in relation to the mason bee. These topics include the life cycle of the bee, their benefits as a pollinator, predators/diseases, and propagation. I was most interested in learning about constructing a nesting block, and was happy to see that this topic was well covered.

Even though we still intend to experiment with honey bees, I'm excited to also experiment with native pollinators such as the mason bee. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in mason bees specifically, or in native pollinators in general. I've already started reading another of Griffin's books, Humblebee Bumblebee, which covers another of the pollinators native to this area.

One thing I'd like to note is that the author often refers to the company Knox Cellars or products produced by the company. The company was started by Mr. Griffin, and is now being ran by two of his grandchildren. It is to be expected that he'd promote the company in the book, but I would suggest checking other sources for products before taking his endorsement as an indication that Knox Cellars is the best source. Also, due to their location, I assume that Knox Cellars carries the western mason bee, so anyone in the eastern part of the US interested in purchasing bees should probably find a seller who carries the eastern mason bee.

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