Pollinate with Mason Bees

Mason bees or “Blue Orchard Bee” are a solitary bee native to North America and are experts at cross pollination. They are about the size of a honey bee, but are black or metallic blue. Unlike honey bees, they do not produce honey but are more efficient when it comes to pollination. Another perk is that they are very docile, with only the females having the ability to sting.

Mason Bee Facts

Mason bees prefer plants that produce apples, blueberries or pears as well as cherries and peaches. With a short flight path they thrive in the urban setting. You do not have to be growing fruit to attract bees, try growing a variety of native or heirloom bee plants. A few you might try are sunflowers, lavender, chives and geraniums.

The female bee will use an existing hole in wood as nests for their eggs. Each egg is placed in the hole on a bed of pollen, then sealed over with mud. The eggs will develop into pupae which will in turn spin themselves into cocoons.

You can buy commercial bee homes or make your own. Any wooden block with drilled holes will work. Because Mason bees are cavity dwellers, you must pay attention to the length and size of the holes. Hole diameter should be 5/16 inch to insure a balanced supply of males and females. Hole depth should be 4-8 inches with a smooth opening. Situate your homes facing southeast for morning heat. Place them about 4 to 10 feet off the ground in a dry spot that is protected from rain and wind.

Blue Mason bees also need a source of mud to seal in their eggs. You can dig a small hole, line it with plastic and fill with sticky clay mud that you keep moist. All types of pollinators need our help so make your garden pollinator friendly.

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Tagged attract bees, bees, blue orchard bees, mason bees, orchard bees, pollinators

9 thoughts on “Pollinate with Mason Bees

  1. Different types of bees and wasps can be quite competitive. Wasps are especially aggressive towards honey bees. Why not set out your mason bee houses away from the eves, find another sheltered spot where there won’t be so much competition.

  2. Do mason bees have problems if there are other kinds of bees and wasps? We have mud daubers and wasps that build under our eaves, which is where I would put the mason bee shelters.

  3. I really want to make some this spring. Thanks for all the info on how to make them. I am sure we can do a lot to help our pollinators survive and thrive.

  4. Love the article! I wish more people would consider our native pollinators instead of honeybees. Some scientists say they can be more efficient pollinators.

  5. Just got my first newsletter bemoaning snow. We have not had any in Nashville, North Carolina, this winter and you may be cheered to know that today, February 4th, the forsythia bloomed all over town! Spring is here! Please be encouraged! Wendy King

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