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  Conservation and Restoration

An essay about desert bee conservation 

 Some of our native desert bees are endangered by the habitat-framenting activities of 
humans as we build homes, shopping malls and cultivate agricultural lands that were formely desert wildlands. Since many bees nest shallowly, their nests are disturbed or destroyed by these activities. Garden and agricultural pesticides take a further toll on these flower-visiting insects when used improperly or at the wrong time of day. Never apply pesticides to blooming plants so that you can avoid killing off your essential pollinators. After many of our desert legume trees die, they have not outlived their usefulness in nature. Dead mesquite (Prosopis) and palo verde (Cercidium) trees, or dead limbs, provide ideal habitats for wood-boring beetle larvae. Once abandoned, these holes and tunnels become the next neighborhood for a rich variety of desert bees. 

You can become a bee rancher by doing a few simple things in your backyard or garden and help restore native bee populations to our urban desert landscapes. Help your children design and build "bee condos", small nesting sites for native bees made from drilled wooden blocks or paper/plastic soda straws inserted into a tin can or paper milk carton. With some scrap lumber, drill holes (1/8 to5/16 inch diameter (7 - 8 mm) and 3 to 6 inches deep) into some scrap lumber. Don't drill all the way through the block and don't drill holes too close to the edges. Nail or hang these nesting blocks up on a tree or under the eaves of your house or garden shed in the early spring. Nesting femal leafcutter and mason bees (like the Orchard Mason Bee) will find your "bee condos" and take up residence. These new tenants willl provide you not only with many hours of fascinating entertainment, but you can reap the delicious bounty of apples, apricots, peaches and other fruits trees and vegetables. Give bees a chance! 

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