Connected \\ April 1, 2020

Building a Bee & Bug House

With all the concerns and uncertainty swirling around as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, it would be understandable if you missed a seasonal milestone, the first day of spring on March 19. We have even started seeing signs of new life popping up from the seemingly barren winter landscape, at least here in eastern Massachusetts.

A light green painted bee and bug house filled with hollowed round wood pieces

Bee & Bug House by Wildlife World. Available from the PEM Shop.

So, pollinators cannot be far behind!

With that in mind, the PEM Shop started carrying “bee and bug houses.” These unusual dwellings attract certain types of insects, including native solitary bees, which are gentle insects and the best pollinators around (even better than honeybees!).

Although you won’t get any honey from solitary bees, nearby flower patches, vegetable gardens and native plantings all benefit from their activities. Some of the more common species include mason bees, leafcutter bees and miner bees — all non-aggressive. Other beneficial bugs attracted to this style of house include lacewings and ladybugs — both known to devour garden pests. The Old Farmer’s Almanac has some helpful tips on maintaining your bee house.

Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.

Providing these helpful insects some suitable places to nest can improve their lives and yours, so in addition to (or instead of) putting up a small “bug house,” leave a good supply of sticks and other natural debris in your yard, which is the go-to nesting material for these critters in nature.

A honeybee drinking nectar from the yellow center part of a bright red flower with blurred pink and green plants in the background

Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.

If you would like to make your own “bug house” for pollinating insects, we have a scheduled workshop at PEM on the Summer Solstice, Saturday, June 20. If programming is still canceled at that time, you can also find the basic directions here on our Art Projects for Kids page, in case you want to do a simple project now to support our wild insect friends and local habitats. Be sure to secure your bug house to a tree or post, so it won’t blow around in the wind. Share a picture of your finished home on social media #PEMPod.

Photo by Bob Packert/PEM.

The PEM shop has an array of nature and bee-related products for sale online, reminding us that spring is here and the great outdoors is beckoning at our doorstep — including a flower calendar puzzle, Eggling seedling kits and an edible flower seed mix from Hudson Valley Seed Company. Just visit the Spring + Garden page on the site.

Available now on the PEM Shop online

A close up detail of a bright red flower with yellow center reaching towards the sky with a green blurred backgroung of greenery

Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.

Speaking of the outdoors, you have likely noticed there are far fewer cars and buses on the roads, trains on railroad tracks and planes overhead as an increasing number of people must temporarily work and complete school work remotely and overall travel is curtailed or restricted. In some larger cities where these restrictions are now in effect, such as Los Angeles, Milan and Beijing, the result has been an observable improvement in air quality — a silver lining in the otherwise dark cloud of a global pandemic.

purple crocus like flowers in some grass
Spring is here! Look for crocuses ..... snowdrops..... and marsh marigolds. Courtesy Janey Winchell.
Small white snowdrop flowers and long green shoots among brpwn leaves
Spring is here! Look for crocuses ..... snowdrops..... and marsh marigolds. Courtesy Janey Winchell.
Small bright yellow flowers just blossoming with large green circular leaves
Spring is here! Look for crocuses ..... snowdrops..... and marsh marigolds. Courtesy Janey Winchell.
Many bright yellow flowers with greenish yellow centers

Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.

Stay safe and be well, everyone!

We sincerely appreciate your PEM Shop purchase, now more than ever! All purchases directly support the Peabody Essex Museum and its educational programming.

The PEM staff wishes everyone health, safety and calm during the COVID-19 shutdown. Museums provide light and inspiration during challenging times. We will be creative in maintaining PEM’s relationship with you in this time of crisis. We look forward to welcoming you back to the museum when the public health crisis has subsided. For more information and updates, please visit and keep in touch through our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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