A blue orchard mason bee is a highly-efficient pollinator and popular with backyard gardeners. - UBCO

Redesigning a milk carton in Kelowna will help the local bee population

The Build a Mason Bee House takes place Saturday at the Laurel Packinghouse

Kelowna’s local bee population will be buzzing after an event will build the bees new homes.

Members of the community are invited to attend a workshop where they will learn how to build a mason bee house for their garden.

The hands-on event, hosted by Kelowna Museums and Border Free Bees, will also include information about caring for mason bees and the benefits of a pollinator garden, according to a UBC Okanagan news release.

READ MORE: ‘It’s never a singular cause,’ too soon for Kelowna beekeepers to determine success of hives

Border Free Bees is a long-term public art initiative, headed by UBC Okanagan Professor Nancy Holmes. The goal is to help raise awareness of the plight of wild pollinators, while at the same time help communities find solutions to habitat loss by transforming urban sites into viable pollinator pastures, the release said.

“The mason bee is a native bee that is a super-pollinator,” said Holmes, who teaches in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies. “Mason bees are great pollinators for backyard gardeners and anyone who has a few fruit trees or a small flower garden.”

READ MORE: UBC study shows honey bees can help monitor pollution in cities

People can drop in at the Laurel Packing House anytime between 1 and 3:30 p.m. on March 30 to build a home for mason bees. The event is free, but participants should bring a clean one-litre, cardboard milk carton. They will be able to take home their DIY bee house to place in their garden or yard.

At 2 p.m., volunteers with Border Free Bees will give a 15-minute talk about native pollinators and explain why they are important and how people can help protect the species. Participants will also get pointers about the care of mason bees and watch a demonstration by The Men’s Shed on different ways to create wooden mason bee houses.

READ MORE: Bee symposium generating a buzz in Kelowna

“Mason bees are more efficient than honey bees and are native to the Okanagan and many other places in North America,” said Holmes. “People don’t have to worry about being stung, and it only takes a few hours a year to look after the bees while they will reward you with fruit and flowers and fill you with wonder.”

For more information about Border Free Bees or the event visit borderfreebees.com.

READ MORE: The search for an effective way to save honeybees


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