Mason Bee

When I was re-painting the generator shed a month ago, I noticed a Mason Bee going in and out of the shed. I was going to remove the roof to finish the painting, but I didn’t want to disturb the nest, that this bee had created, and because our solitary bees are in decline, I thought I would leave it, to boost the populations for next year. I’ve been trying to get a photograph of her, but no luck, as yet.

So here’s a picture of her nest

Mason Bee 'nest' larva on pollen/nectar provision mass

Mason Bee 'nest' larva on pollen/nectar provision mass (click image for high resolution version)

Mason bees are increasingly cultivated to improve pollination for early spring fruit flowers. They are used sometimes as an alternative, but more often as an augmentation for European honey bees.

Unlike honey bees (Apis), they are solitary; every female is fertile and makes her own nest, and there are no worker bees for these species. Solitary bees produce neither honey nor beeswax. They are immune from acarine and Varroa mites, but have their own unique parasites, pests and diseases.

Most mason bees live in holes and can be attracted by drilling short holes in a block of wood. They are excellent spring season pollinators and, since they have no honey to defend, will only sting if squeezed or stepped on. As such, they make excellent garden “pets”, since they both pollinate the plants and are safe for children and pets.

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