Mason bees are cute little fuzzy bees known as the gentle pollinator. They are our native pollinators. They live all over the United States and Southern Canada. When we think of pollinators we automatically think of honey bees – did you know that they are imported from Europe? Our local mason bees have been helping pollinate our backyards all along. The company Crown Bees has come up with a plan to build the mason bee population so that if the honey bee continues to decline we will have an alternate pollinator to rely upon. Always good to plan ahead-
There are two types of mason bees Hornfaced and Blue. They are about 1/3 of an inch long and the blue mason bees have a blue black metallic sheen to their bodies. Unlike the honey bee, which only gathers pollen on their legs, mason bees collect it all over their fuzzy little bodies. They are also important because they are early spring pollinators. They are buzzing around when it is still too cold for the honey bees to come out of their hive. They are perfect for early blooming fruit trees. They love the stone fruit blossoms like peaches. Mason bees are cavity nesting bees. They are non-destructive and look for unoccupied holes made by other insects. They are also solitary bees and don’t produce honey which makes them very gentle and relaxed. - Because they don’t have a hive to protect they aren’t aggressive. They are called mason bees because the female gathers mud to cap off each end of the cavity or tube to protect her eggs.
We will be hanging our mason bee house outside soon. It is an observation house. The kids can lift up one side and see what the bees are doing – how they are packing the pollen and mud and what the eggs look like. I bought ours from Crown Bees. I also bought some mason bees to ensure that we will have some in our house this year. The funny thing is that you buy the eggs in November and you store them in your refridgerator until spring. In the pictures below, you can see the tubes that will go into the house. The little cocoons are the bees. We have ten. The small ones are the males and the big ones are the females. They need a daytime temp of 55 degrees to emerge. We aren’t there yet – but soon.