Entries in nature blog (56)


Quick Mason Bee Houses

Hey friends!  Things have been slowing down just a little bit from the frenzy.  I've been wanting to revisit making some mason bee houses since we have all the flowers on the property coming out in phases - especially the blackberry bushes now in bloom.  I built a mason bee tray house a while back (HERE).

My workshop isn't set up yet with all the projects going on so I decided to use only what I had onhand as far as scrap material and supplies.  So I went for it!  I definitely wanted to use routed out trays so that I can harvest the cocoons and place them in the fridge until next Spring.  But to also keep the mason bee houses clean each season to avoid pests and diseases.

So here's what I came up with for three houses that I put in different places around the property.  I'll keep you posted on whether or not I have visitors.  It is a little late in the season.

I mostly freehanded the routing with some help from a straight edge at times.  I wasn't too worried about getting perfect lines since nature isn't perfect.

I used a 3/8" round nose router bit at a depth of 5/16".  This is recommended quite often and hopefully it will prove successful.

When I was initially finished making the trays I realized I had enough to make two tray houses if I wanted to.  I used a cut from the fence board planks to cap the tray groups.  Zip ties were used to keep the tray bundles together and tight until harvest.

House #1 was completed with some remnant wood and pieces of cedar fence planks I had on hand.  And capped with some metal flashing I had laying around.  ...Some bee push pins to dress it up a bit.  Vintage door hinges were perfect for hanging and attaching on top and on the bottom.

House #2 is a mixture of routed trays and some cardboard tubes.  I made paper liners for the tubes with parchment paper.  I cut the parchment paper to about 7" x 2.5" rectangles and rolled them up around a pencil to push into cardboard tubes.  Scissors were used to trim off any extra from the front.  You'll want to leave about 1/8" to 1/4" of paper liner tube sticking out in front so that you have something to grab to pull out the tubes at harvest time and also to clean out.  I folded/pinched the back ends of each inserted parchment paper liner.

I used some new/old stock door trim/plinth pieces for the body of House #3.  Some cardboard tubes finished it out with some board on top to keep them pressed down and in place. 

I hope some of you will or already have built some mason bee houses or purchased some for your yard.  They are amazing polinators that get more pollination done than most bees.  Be sure to not use old wood that holes have been drilled into if possible.  Over time, they are prone to contain and harbor diseases and pests which works against your success with mason bees and other similar bees like leaf cutter bees.  Please use paper lined cardboard tubes (so they can be cleaned out) or trays that have been routed out.  There are also many suppliers out there that can sell you these items to get you jump started on Etsy, Amazon or their own websites.  Happy Pollinating!


Tawny Emperor Butterfly on Cantaloupe

Hey folks.  Just thought I would post a quick pic of a visitor I had the other day.  I put some mushy cantaloupe out a couple of weeks ago and had a winged visitor.  Probably had more but this is the only one I saw.  It's a Tawny Emperor Butterfly.  First time I've documented one in the yard with photos so far.  If you like butterflies, search my site here on the lefthand sidebar for "butterflies" to see whatelse I've posted in the past on them.


Another Carolina Wren Nest - A Repurposed Nest

Carolina Wrens are opportunists.  My friend Phil had wrens nest in his running shoe sitting on a window ledge more than once.  When these wrens get to building a nest, they don't waste any time.  This one was complete in less than a day.

The helmet was originally just put on top of the planter right by the back door when we were playing in the backyard.  The wren saw an opportunity!  I moved the pot and helmet to the top of my locker storage cabinet so it wouldn't get disturbed and this is how it proceeded....

Six beautiful eggs!  It amazes me how these little bitty gals can hold that many eggs.  These photos were taken a little while back so there should be some hatchlings very soon.  More to come!


A little bit of recent Goldfinch activity in honor of Easter....

Most people that saw me during my bird photography sessions would wonder what the hell I was doing.  I'm usually stuck in a pose with the camera up to my eye for lengths of 30 minutes on average until I absolutely have to move because the position is killing me.  I used to use a blind tent but the weather beat it up over time.  

It takes a lot of patience to get close enough with a zoom lens to get good photographs.  For every "good" photo, there's about 6 more photos that are too similar or just not good at all.  

I hope you enjoy these recent Goldfinch visitors of mine!...

I've never had a group of Goldfinches collect on my roof before.  Thought it was pretty interesting when I turned around once.  I guess they'll go anywhere together.

If you're new to visiting GadgetSponge and wondering why the heck I have photographs of birds on my website, it's because nature is very important to me and part of the whole circle of GadgetSponge.  I try to keep as many parts (junk) out of the landfill in my creations.  This can only help nature.  That's the quick synopsis of it anyway.  Many of my past posts elaborate more on this train of thought.  See you soon!


Bluebird Nesting Update

Here's a quick update on this year's bluebird family in the "favored" bluebird birdhouse on my fence.

The parents are busy going back and forth with all kinds of grubs, bugs, worms and more.  

I also have a Carolina Wren nest going on in a water pitcher that was turned sideways onto of a planter.  They find the craziest (yet functional) places to build nests.  They are deep inside the pitcher so I can't tell how many there are and don't want to disturb that nest because of its location.

More updates as they develop!