If you have any apricot, peach, plum, cherry, apple, pear or other plants that require pollination in the early spring, you will want to consider mason bees for your pollinators. Here are fifteen reasons why:
- are solitary, only one bee per nest not hundreds.
- do not sting.
- are early spring bees, about the time peaches and cherries bloom.
- fly when it is cold, as low as 54°F, honey bees fly at 57-59°F.
- forage earlier in the morning and later in the evening than honey bees.
- female uses holes in wood or nesting tubes for a nest.
- she chooses holes slightly larger than her body, 5/16th inches in diameter.
- she then brings in 15 to 20 loads of nectar and pollen which she collects from spring flowers.
- when she has provided a supply of food for the larva, she lays an egg and then seals the cell with a mud wall (why the name mason bee).
- she then supplies another cell, and continues until the hole is nearly full.
- she finishes with a thick mud plug at the entrance.
- if no natural mud source is available near the nesting sites, dig a shallow hole, line it with plastic, and fill it with moist soil.
- position nests where they will receive morning sun.
- put the nests up in March.
- do not place the nests in storage until September or October to assure complete development of the adults.
Mason Bee Life Cycle
The life cycle of fits into a regular pattern. Females make nests using and provision them with honey and pollen. They lay single eggs in divided cells. The eggs hatch and the larvae eat, grow, and pupate inside the same cell. The adults remain in the nest until spring or summer. The males usually emerge before the females, which are mated immediately after emergence from the nest. The cycle then repeats itself.
HOS Will Supply You With Mason Bees
Live mason bees and tubes for nesting are available from HOS at the various events we have. All proceeds from these sales go to support the HOS Arboretum at Clackamas Community College
Why I Need Mason Bees
In my suburban environment pollination of early flowering crops may be a problem. Most of us have relied on the wild honey bee for our pollination. Recently, the wild populations of honey bees have dropped off the radar screen. This past year (2003) they are coming back in my ecosystem. I saw approximately 20 wild honey bees this year compared to 2-3 the last four years. Still not enough to pollinate my home orchard. I have been using mason bees as my primary early season pollinators and bumble bees for later crops.