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What is the Bee Buddies Program?

The Bee Buddies Program is designed to care for and increase the population of native mason bees in Benton County. Bee Buddies received a nest box and cocoons, which a BSWCD representative installs in an appropriate location. The bees emerge, mate, and get to work pollinating spring blooms like fruit trees, blueberries, and various native plants. Here’s the process:

  1. Submit an application by March 8. We will determine if your property meets a few minimum requirements, arrange a site visit, and size your nesting box accordingly.
  2. Receive a nesting box. We will install a bee box at an approved location. The box will have a sign affixed with information about the project so that you can help educate the visitors to your garden.
  3. The bees pollinate. Your bees will pollinate your crops mid-March through May and potentially double or triple crop yields!
  4. We harvest cocoons. In June, BSWCD will collect your bee boxes, harvest, clean, and store the cocoons until the next active season, when you may reapply.
George and Patty Bolz with their installed nest box
George and Patty Bolz with their installed nest box

Who can be a Bee Buddy?

We loan nesting kits to gardeners and fruit growers who want to boost fruit yields and support native pollinators and their natural habitats. Public or private landowners in Benton County can participate. Bee Buddies is only open to people who use organic, pesticide-free practices. You may qualify to be a Bee Buddy if you have fruit trees, blueberries, or early blooming native plants, such as Oregon grape. To help cover the cost of materials, we charge a $30 participation fee.

The Mighty Mason Bee – a presentation by Bee Enthusiast Jerry Paul.

Simple Steps to Help Pollinators

  • Avoid pesticides.

  • Provide nest sites.

  • Grow host plants like milkweed.

  • Incorporate pollen and nectar plants.

  • Keep some areas bare: mason bees need silty-clay mud.

  • Tell others about these important creatures.

Finding the right mud for mason bees

Related Blog Posts

a bottomland forest surrounded by farm fields
Integrated Biological Pest Management
Teresa Matteson | April 8, 2021

2017 was an exceptional year of Integrated Biological Pest Management (IBPM) education thanks to USDA Risk Management Education Partnerships Program funding and the leadership of Gwendolyn Ellen.

Conservation Neighbor: Jerry Paul
Heath Keirstead | December 30, 2020

Native plants brought the Pauls to Benton SWCD after they moved to Corvallis in 2006. By 2012, Jerry had revolutionized the order fulfillment process at the Native Plant Sale.

Conservation Neighbor: Molly Monroe
Heath Keirstead | December 15, 2020

Molly Monroe, with her personal and professional dedication to conserving the natural world and its inhabitants, is a role model for all budding and even long-standing conservation practitioners. Read more about this inspiring conservation neighbor!

Related Resources

For additional information, we recommend:
  • 2021 Bloom Time And Flower Color Gantt

  • Bee Buddy Application Form Fillable

    If you would like to participate in the Bee Buddies Program, please complete the following application in full. Successful applicants will receive a stocked mason bee nesting box at the beginning of the bees’ active season (mid-March to early April). To cover the cost of materials, we charge a $30 participation fee, payable upon acceptance into program.

  • Bee Buddies Brochure

    Bee Buddies – Let us do the work so you can benefit from native, gentle, solitary bees.

  • Mason Bee Facts Brochure

    Mason Bees – get to know these gentle native pollinators. Pollinators are in decline, but you can help. Native mason bees are solitary bees that are easy to support in your home garden.

  • Mason Bee Keeper Cycle 2021

    Get to know the mason bee life cycle and how to care for your backyard pollinators.

Program Contact

Heath standing in a field with soil testing equipment
Heath Keirstead
Communications and Community Engagement Manager
541-753-7208 ext. 205
Copyright ©2013- 2021 Benton Soil & Water Conservation District. All rights reserved.