How To Pollinate Your Garden With Native Mason Bees

 How To Pollinate Your Garden With Native Mason Bees

About the Mason Bee

Mason bees are native to all parts of the United States, and there are more than 300 species in North America alone. They are part of the family Megachilidae in the genus Osmia. They took the name "Mason" because of their tendency to use clay or "masonry" in building their homes. Unlike bees, which live in hives that can contain tens of thousands of bees, the humble mason bee is solitary.

Mason bees have a short lifespan of only a few weeks. The females' sole focus is collecting pollen and building nests for their young. These creatures have little time for anything else. They work to the point of exhaustion. In fact, during cold periods of rain, bees get hungry and wait for the weather to become favorable again. When this happens, they tend to live longer, and spread more widely due to “downtimes” caused by bad weather.

Bees are calm and docile

Mason bees are very quiet. They have no roof for protection and few enemies. They spend their time moving between flowering plants and small mud houses. Although female mason bees can sting, they rarely do so. They are not as aggressive as social bees.

What Do Mason Bees Look Like?

They have approximately 300 distinct species and come in a variety of sizes and forms. Some are about the size of a quarter, others are barely larger than a mosquito. Many people confuse it with bees, because some species are brighter in color. However, upon closer inspection, you'll notice one thing they all have in common. . .

Very effective pollinator

They are bad pollinators. Their bodies are often covered in pollen, unlike bees which collect pollen on their hind legs. Up to 95 percent of a mason bee's body can be covered in pollen.

This chaos is what makes them as amazing as pollen. They spread pollen wherever they land. For this reason, they are among the best pollinators of any insect. They are the best friends of gardeners everywhere.

Little Super Heroes

The easiest way to distinguish a bee from a bee is to look at the wings. A bee has only two wings while a bee (any bee) has four wings. This can be difficult when the bee is very small, but if it is going in and out of flowers, there is a good chance it is a bumblebee. Most mason bees are smaller than honey bees, which gives them an advantage. Mason bees can fit into a wide variety of flowers.

You can even try following them home. All bees fly as straight as possible and return to their home. Known as the “bee line,” they don't waste their precious energy on sightseeing.

4 Ways to Get More Mason Bees to Visit Your Garden

You're probably wondering how to get these amazing insects to visit your garden. It's not complicated. There are some important, but simple, details that should be in place for mason bees to play a role in your garden.

1. Grow Flowering Plants

First, mason bees need food. If mason flies emerge from their cocoons too early or too late, it means they are too late to find food nearby, and they will likely starve to death. Make sure flowering plants are available the entire time mason bees are outside. They appear in mid-spring when the temperature is a constant 50 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. For most of North America this will be mid-spring. It is important that many flowers bloom at this time.

Early flowering plants that support mason bees.

There are many early flowering perennials that are very helpful in the survival of mason bees. Here are some:

Fruit Trees: This is one of the main reasons why orchids and mason bees work so well together.

Heather: A shrub laden with pink flowers, loved by bees.

Daffodils: When we think of spring, we often think of daffodils.

Crocus: It is known to push through the snow and is one of the first plants to bloom. There are more than 80 species. Some are hardy to zone 3.

Hellebore: Also called the Christmas rose, it is a common flower that blooms in the winter. They are hardy to zone 4.

It is beneficial for bees to plant flowers, shrubs and trees in bunches or lines rather than scattering them around the yard. Bees will need to spend less time searching for flowers and more time searching for and consuming nectar.

Because native flora in your area are thought to be four times more alluring to mason bees than exotic blooms, I advise utilizing them. It is also best to plant hardy perennials rather than annuals.
I also encourage you to plant flowers that come in different shapes. Some species of mason bees have particularly long or short tongues and prefer unusual sizes and shapes.

2. Make Bee Houses

Another factor for mason bees is the availability of crevices and holes for them to build cocoons for their offspring. So, where can I find a home for a mason bee? You can easily make one or buy a tubed one if you prefer. Gardeners often build simple houses for mason bees, which can contain a few dozen bees.

Most mason bees prefer long crevices or holes to build cocoons for their young. Remember, women are the ones who do most of the work after pregnancy. Males spend the rest of their short lives feeding on nectar, but they still pollinate.

3. Provide a Water Supply

The third factor is to provide a small source of water, with some partially submerged rocks to land on. When providing a water source for your bees, it is important to give them space on the ground. The best way to do this is to use rocks. Stack stones or use stones large enough that they are above the waterline. Think of these rocks as landing places for bees, so you want them to be stable. A small bird bath in the garden works well.

Bees will use water during the nest building process. They also want to drink. Some people create a mud source near the water for bees. Why not? This is a great idea!

4. Provide a Mud Supply

To be honest, I think the bees can handle it without our help. Although you can buy "special" powders that bees can use, I don't think they're really necessary. After all, there is a lot of dirt in and around the garden. If you decide to provide slime, it may be helpful to place it in a small pile of dirt near the nest.

Ideally, all of these things will be relatively close to each other. The general rule is to keep them no more than 100 feet from their nests, as they move back and forth between the flowers and the nests.

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