A type of native species, the mason bee is relatively common throughout the US. These hard workers are a bit smaller than the well-known honeybees, and the blue-black metallic color also distinguishes them.
Because their nests feature a mortar-like mud construction, mason bees have gotten the particular name.
Over the past few years, people have got genuinely concerned about the decline in bee populations. It is one of the main reasons why many beekeepers and agricultural producers are currently trying to attract mason bees in an attempt to enhance crop pollination.
Mason Bees: A Brief Overview
The mason bee is a member of the Osmia genus. Several unique species fall within the genus – the blueberry bee, Osmia lignaria, the orchard mason bee and the horn-faced bee are just a few examples.
Unlike honeybees, all of the mason bee varieties are solitary. There isn’t a single queen bee. Rather, all of the females are fertile, and they make individual nests. Worker bees are also not a thing for these species.
After the eggs of the mason bee hatch, the males and females will mate immediately. The males die off in a couple of days while the females begin making their own nests. This is how the lifecycle of mason bees gets repeated.
Tips for Attracting and Keeping Mason Bees
Because mason bees are expert pollinators, many have made attempts to attract and keep them on purpose. If you’re interested in such activities, you’ll need to keep a few essentials in mind.
The first thing to remember is to leave the fear behind. The male mason bees don’t have a stinger, and as such, they’re completely harmless. The bees also don’t have a queen to protect, which is why the females are non-aggressive.
Mason bees need pollen, which is why planting a sufficient number of flowering species in the respective area is one of the best possibilities for attracting them. If the bees don’t have enough pollen, they’ll quickly move on to another area.
To attract mason bees, it may also be a good idea to prepare nesting boxes. Nesting boxes should typically be positioned on south-facing walls. The area that bees travel to from the nest is about 300 feet, which means that food should readily be available nearby. Giving the bees access to mud is another prerequisite for keeping them. An open area that isn’t covered by grass, bark or anything else provides the female bees with the material that they need to lay their eggs.
Finally, people who are interested in keeping mason bees as pollinators should offer some protection against natural predators.
Crows, robins, and several other bird species will prey on the mason bees. They’ll usually attack the males as these begin emerging from the nest. Keeping the bee nest in a garage or a shed will offer the newly-hatched bees some protection. Mason bees are particularly vulnerable in the morning, especially when the weather is colder.
Attracting mason bees is an excellent organic gardening practice. Remember, however, that these little beneficial insects require a bit of care. Take some time to create the right nesting conditions and offer the bees some protection. They’ll pay off in the form of effective crop/plant pollination.