There are several kinds of bees, The one I love to see, attract and even live in my yard is the Mason bee. Mason bees are non-stinging bees and valuable to pollinating plants.
Can They Sting?
Yes, the bees can. Although, it takes a lot to upset them. Spraying water directly at the nesting site or catching and squeezing one are about the only ways they would sting. They have a job to do and more worried about that job.
What is the Job of a Mason Bee?
Early spring pollination is the job of a Mason bee by collecting nectar and pollen for their nests.
Making it possible for plants to set seed and reproduce, and for fruit trees and berry, canes to increase their bounty.
They are also your late spring and early summer flower pollinators. Keeping your yards bursting with color.
How Do They Get Their Name?
Mason bees are named for their habit of using mud or other “masonry” products in constructing their nests, which are made in naturally occurring gaps such as between cracks in stones or other small dark cavities; when available some species preferentially use hollow stems, tubes or holes in wood made by wood-boring insects. They don’t provide honey or wax.
Where Do They Nest?
Females typically nest in narrow gaps and tube cavities are preferred.
Hollow twigs, bark, and abandoned nests of carpenter bees are favorited.
The bees do not excavate their nests. They use clay, mud, and plant materials to fill the cavities of their homes. After lining the homes, they collect pollen and nectar.
When Do You See Them?
Mason bees are early bees. You will see them doing their business 2 weeks before the apples blossom until about 2 weeks after the apple blossoms are done. The rest of the time is spent in egg, larva and cocoon phases.
Unlike a honey bee all females are fertile and build nests. When a Mason bee is hatched, the males stay in the nest and wait for the females to hatch. The males mate and die shortly after.
Within a few days of mating the female selects a nesting site and begins to visit flowers to gather pollen and nectar for her nest. Many trips are needed to complete a pollen/nectar lining of the cavity. The pollen and nectar will provide food for the soon to hatch larva. The nectar and pollen also give the female her energy to complete her tasks.
Finishing The Nest and Laying Eggs
Once the female collects enough pollen and nectar for her larva the nest is complete. The bee backs into the hole and lays an egg on top of the mass. Then, she creates a partition of “mud”, which doubles as the back of the next cell. The process continues until she has filled the cavity. Female eggs are laid in the back of the nest, and male eggs towards the front.
When a bee has finished with a nest, she plugs the entrance to the tube and then seeks out another nesting location. She will continue this pattern until all her eggs have been laid during her 4-week lifespan.
Hatching of Larva
Within weeks of hatching the larva will consume all of its pollen and nectar and begin to spin a cocoon around itself and enters the pupa stage. Adults mature in either in the late fall or winter and hibernate inside their cocoon until spring. Then the mating ritual repeats.
How Can You Attract Mason Bees?
Provide the two things they need for survival. Homes and a yard full of plants that contain nectar and pollen.
Build A Mason Bee Home
Build your own homes in your yard.
Read my article HERE.
Don’t want to build your own? See the wealth of prebuilt selections below.
Plenty of Products on the Market To Purchase
If you don’t want to try your hand at building a home, buy one. I like the house that attaches to a building and are not left unstable and to hang in the wind.
Will Other Bees Use the Same House?
Yes, leafcutter bees will. Unless they are busy making nests under rocks. They are a little later in the season and your garden pollinators.
Until next time friends, take care!