Learn all about mason bees in this short video. What is a solitary bee, difference between honeybee and mason bee, how they lay eggs and so much more!!!
You may have seen a mason bee and thought it was a fly. Or heard the word mason bee and thought that they sting. Let’s learn a little more about these amazing pollinators who are helping our ecosystem, working to help honey bees and helping farmers produce more food all over the world.
WHAT IS A MASON BEE? We work with two types of mason bees, the blue orchard mason bee and the hornfaced mason bee. Blue orchard bees have a blue iridescent sheen and the hornfaced bee are fuzzy with light stripes. They are both solitary bees, which means they don’t live in a hive, don’t have a queen bee, and all the females are able to lay eggs.
WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT TO THE ECOSYSTEM? Mason bees are not picky pollinators, they will collect pollen and nectar from just about any plant that’s blooming in the early spring. That means not only do mason bees help us grow more food, but they pollinate our native plants too. That makes it so the plants around us are healthier, can grow larger, and can better filter our air and water, boosting the overall health of our ecosystems.
HOW DO THEY HELP FARMERS MAKE MORE FOOD? Farmers use 1,000 mason bees per acre to pollinate their crops. We need to continue to grow our mason bee population so that they can work with more farmers. By providing another bee to help pollinate our orchards, honey bees are less stressed and farmers can boost their yields.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MASON BEE AND A HONEY BEE?
1) BELLY FLOPPERS – Mason bees belly flop onto the flower, which gets pollen all over their body. Whereas, a honey bee collects pollen on their back legs. This enables mason bees to pollinate 95% of the flowers they land on vs. 5% for the honey bees.
2) HOLES VS. HIVES – Honey bees work in a hive that produces honey and the queen lays eggs. Mason bees lay eggs in pre-existing tunnels or holes and don’t produce any honey.
3) WHO’S THE QUEEN – Honey bees have one queen that lays all the eggs. Mason bees are solitary bees, all females lay eggs and they work alone.
4) BABY BEES – Mason bees lay 15 eggs in their lifetime that turn into cocoons and hatch the next Spring. Honey bee queens lay over 2,000 eggs a day that develop into bees inside the hive.
HOW MASON BEES HELP HONEY BEES – Honey bees are overworked in the pursuit of keeping up with our high demands for food. By using more mason bees on our farms, we can lessen the stress on the honey bee populations and utilize the amazing hardiness of the mason bee to keep our grocery stores stocked with fruit.
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED? It’s easy to host mason bees. They are low maintenance and DO NOT STING. We provide everything you need to host mason bees in your yard, including 50-60 mason bee cocoons that will be safely shipped to your home. Where does the rental part come in? You enjoy your bees pollinating your yard and in the fall you ship the nesting block back to us and we do all the harvesting and cleaning of the cocoons and nesting blocks to rid evasive predators. You can order your kit online and have it mailed right to your home.
After your kit arrives:
- Hang your mason bee house in a sunny morning location.
- Place nesting block into the house.
- Remove tape from tube that holds 50-60 cocoons and set on top of the nesting block.
That’s it! When the weather warms up to about 50 degrees your bees will start to emerge from the tube. They will mark it with a scent so they know where to come back. Then, they will get to work pollinating trees and flowers and will lay 5-8 eggs in each hole.
In September, you’ll get a reminder to mail your nesting block full of “baby bees” back to Rent Mason Bees using your box and pre-paid shipping label. We will clean the cocoons and safely store them in hibernation over the winter. Then, the next Spring, healthy mason bee cocoons are sent back to our gardeners and farmers to pollinate crops such as apple, blueberry, pear, cherry and almond.
HOW YOU’RE MAKING A DIFFERENCE – When you host, you help pollinate gardens, put healthy bees back into the ecosystem and help farmers produce more food.
If you are planning on having mason and leafcutter bees this year, please consider renting from us. We provide mason and leafcutter bee kits to pollinate your yard during spring and summer months. We take all the work out of fall harvest and cleaning of mason bee cocoons and do all of that for you.
Thank you for supporting our family run business and loving bees!