Mason Bees: The first of many in a series about bee species

I decided to begin exploring additional species of bees, because I am a researcher at heart and love learning, but also because honey bees are not the only bees pollinating flowers.

This week is the start of this series, and the mason bee is our lucky focal point number one!

I will present a fun fact every day this week about the Mason Bee, and by the end of the week I hope to convince you to host them in your yard, and will show you how.

Mason bees are a solitary species that, unlike the honey bee, have no colony to lean on.  And unlike the honey bees, every female is fertile and every female builds her own nest after she mates with a male. The sole purpose of the male bee is to mate with a female and then he dies shortly thereafter, not unlike the honey bee drones, sorry fellas.

A female proceeds to collect as much pollen and nectar as possible before she begins laying eggs. Mason bees do not have the efficiency of collecting pollen as honey bees do, as they do not have carrying baskets on their hind legs.  Instead, they immerse themselves in the center of flowers and cover their bodies with pollen before moving to the next flower.  This makes them fairly inefficient at carrying pollen over long distances, but efficient at pollinating because they dive into flowers and transfer lots of pollen from flower to flower. They work vigorously from early morning until early evening, and cover impressive pollinating ground in that time span.  One mason bee can cover what 100 honey bees can in one day. Wow! But what’s the big rush? Why are these bees working so hard?

Check back tomorrow to find out!