There is a lot of buzz going around about mason bees. This small bee species typically emerges in early spring and is unlike other bees out there. Since we get a lot of calls about mason bees this time of year, we thought we’d take the time to explain what makes them so unique. So keep reading to learn more about this hyper-pollinator.
What are Mason Bees?
Mason bees (genus Osmia) are solitary bees common throughout most of the United States. They’re generally metallic blue or blueish-black in color and are smaller than honey bees. Mason bees get their name from their habit of using mud or other masonry materials to construct their nests.
What Makes Mason Bees Different?
There are many habits and characteristics that make mason bees so different from many other bees. First of all, they’re solitary. While some bees form hives and support a queen, mason bees work alone and nest alone.
Mason bees don’t live in a hive. Mason bees look for small tube-shaped holes and create sections to place pollen and eggs in, sealing them off with mud.
Mason bees are not aggressive. The males do not even have stingers so stings are very rare.
Mason bees don’t make honey. Since they don’t live in social hives and are short-lived, mason bees don’t need to create stores of food. Instead,they eat pollen and nectar as they forage.
Mason bees are very prolific pollinators. In fact, they’re about 120 times more efficient at pollinating than honey bees. This is because of their somewhat messy pollination process. Honey bees gather pollen, mix it with saliva, and store it in their pollen baskets on their legs whereas mason bees haphazardly land on flowers, gather pollen all over their bodies and drop it as they fly away.
How Do I Attract Mason Bees?
If you’re interested in raising mason bees, you’ll want to install a mason bee box(es) to your property, close to the trees or plants you wish to be pollinated. They’re available at most garden centers. If you want more information about mason bees or any other pest, feel free to contact us at Pioneer Pest Management! We have locations in Portland OR and Vancouver WA with entomologists on site ready to answer your questions.