Seattle, WA
We’ve got a pretty extensive garden (including many plants specifically intended to attract bees). Typically by May, it’s buzzing like crazy with activity from many different types of bees. This year has been different. By mid-May, I’d seen only a single bumblebee and no other bees. No honeybees (weird since they have three-mile range!) and none of the various small species that we normally see in abundance.
We decided to do something. I found out about places to order several different types of bees, with a focus on mason bees and leafcutter bees. I found local apiary, Crown Bees*.
“Crown Bees strives to educate gardeners and farmers for their bee-raising success. We share what we learn from academic research and field trials with our customers through videos, our website, and our monthly BeeMail newsletter, where we provide readers with timely reminders and bee-raising tips… Crown Bees raises, sells, and advocates for hole-nesting bees that pollinate significantly better than the honey bee.”
I found them to be a great resource for:
  • learning about the right bees for my area, the right timing for these bees,
  • learning how to raise them by myself over time, and to purchase
  • high-quality materials for the task (at great prices)
  • an explanation of why these were right and why other commonly available approaches were problematic.

They also have an education and outreach program with both web documentation and in-person presentation training.

Unfortunately, it sounds like it’s a bit late to put out mason bees (good for spring-blooming plants), but I ended up ordering starter kit with a bee house and a bunch of leafcutter bee cocoons! These bees are gentle and non-aggressive (according to Crown Bees they do not induce anaphylactic shock and they rarely sting – which is great because I’m allergic to stings), don’t have a hive to maintain, and are more effective pollinators than honey bees.
I’m now excited waiting for them to hatch!
 *they didn’t pay me anything, give me anything for free, or even have any idea I’m writing this.