Butterflies are so old school.
Just kidding. We love doing butterflies and have raised them for several years. This year I thought I'd take a break of them - it never fails to bother me when they cannibalize their fellow chrysalids. I know nature is nature, but the confined growing arrangement of the caterpillars with feeding medium isn't terribly natural to begin with. In any case, we'll do them again next year I'm sure.
But this spring is all about mason bees. From a local supplier, we purchased mason bee cocoons along with a DVD all about them, poster of their life cycle and habitat for them to live in. They are a native species of bee that are apparently very docile and friendly. Mason bees do not produce honey; but they do pollinate flowers, making them a wonderful addition to a garden or yard that grows fruits. Our own yard has raspberry, honeyberry and blueberry bushes. Someday hopefully apple too, but space is an issue for that, especially with the addition of the kids play set and the maintenance of our ample vegetable garden.
Tonight I set up our bees, which had already started to emerge from their cocoons. We will get to watch them at work all spring as the pollinate our bushes, and in the fall we can choose to harvest the new cocoons for the following year or let them hibernate in their home to emerge next spring. Hopefully, this will be an on-going addition to our repertoire of Cool Things We Do.
Next year, I think we'll add on preying mantises.