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WHAT ARE SOLITARY BEES? Unlike the social honey bees, solitary bees do not live in a hive or make honey. Instead, each female must find or create her own nest, and collect all of the food needed to feed herself and her eggs. Since there is no hive to protect and each female reproduces, solitary bees are non-aggressive. They will only sting if trapped or roughly handled and their stings are mild, similar to a mosquito bite. At Rent Mason Bees, we work with three species of cavity-nesting solitary bees, which can be kept in bee houses and are critical for pollination of our food crops.

Our Bees Are Sustainably Raised. Our bees are certified by the Orchard Bee Association (OBA), which means they are sustainably raised and inspected. When working with mason bees, there are strict guidelines that have been implemented to protect bee populations. We follow the suggested guidelines and ensure that all our bees are separated by region so that when they sent out the following spring, they go back to the region they originated from. We also follow OBA guidelines and best practices for successful shipping of live mason bee cocoons. To reduce risk, we ship only dormant cocoons with adult bees with an ice pack to keep them cool so they are unlikely to emerge in transit.

Gentle. Non-Aggressive. Low Maintenance.

Spring Mason Bees

Blue Orchard Bee, Osmia lignaria (western U.S. only*)

The blue orchard bee is a docile bee native to North America. Adult bees emerge from their cocoons in the spring when fruit trees and many of our native shrubs and herbs are in bloom. These highly efficient pollinators increase fruit production as well as improve the overall health of their ecosystems. This mason bee uses mud to build nest partitions and protect their young from invading pests. They are fun to watch throughout the spring and are an important member of western ecosystems.

(*This bee species is available in the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.)

Horn-faced Bee, Osmia cornifrons (midwestern and eastern U.S. only*)

Horn-faced bees are found throughout the midwestern and eastern United States, and are used around the world for fruit tree pollination. Similar to blue orchard bees, adult horn-faced bees are also active during spring when many trees, shrubs, and herbs are in bloom. In addition to mud, this mason bee often also uses leaf pulp to construct their nest partitions. Horn-faced bees are better suited to humid environments than are blue orchard bees, and can also tolerate cold climates.

(*This bee species is available in all U.S. states EXCEPT: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.)

Summer Leafcutter Bees

Leafcutter Bee, Megachile rotundata (Nationwide*)

Leafcutter bees are found across North America and are used around the world for alfalfa pollination. Honey bees do not efficiently pollinate alfalfa due to a spring-loaded pistil mechanism in the alfalfa flower which they avoid. The small leafcutter bee effectively pollinates by “tripping” the pistil, and is responsible for creating the majority of feed for pigs and dairy cows. They are an equally gentle generalist bee that will visit a majority of types of flowers in your backyard during their flying months of July and August, including your flowering vegetable garden. As their name suggests, leafcutter bees use leaf pieces, which they cut using their mouth-parts, to construct their nests.

(*This bee species is available in all U.S. states EXCEPT: Alaska and Hawaii)

Bee Amazed

Mason bees
visit up to
2,000
flowers a day
400 Mason bees
do the work of
40,000
honey bees
One Mason bee
block can hold
500
eggs
Farmers
release
1,000
bees per acre
to pollinate their
crops