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  • Subject: [NAFEX] Mason Bees [was: bumble bee as pollinator]
  • Date: Wed, 23 Apr 2003 12:26:57 -0400

I admire and respect the bumble bee, but I'm under the
impression that the young queens leave the nests at some point
to hibernate?? I.e. if you have a nest of bumbles one year,
you may not have the same nest the next year.

The advantages of Mason Bees:

Very easy to manage: They renest in the tubes they came out of
and nearby tubes (some do "take off"). And you mostly only
have to worry about them for about two months out of the year
(see disadvantages).

Good pollinators: They actually prefer Rose family plants
(i.e. most fruit trees), to say dandelions (I've heard this is
a problem with honeybees). They are mostly after the pollen
so they approach the flower from the top, as compared to
honeybees which may approach from the side to get at the

Very gentle: I walk upto 4-5' from their nests, and have
never been stung. I've heard they can sting, but its more
comparible to a mosquito bite.


Short season: Depending on your needs this could be a factor.
They active adult stage is effectively done by the end of
May. If you have something that needs pollinated towards the
end of May or after, they won't do you much good.

New homes: You do have to provide them with new nests on a
yearly basis to encourage them to stay and to reduce the
amount of parasite build up.

I don't have the Blue Orchard mason bee, but the Japanese
Hornfaced bee (both are species of the Osmia genus of bees)

If someone is interested and I get a good repopulation of bees
(last year because of a late hard frost was a near disaster),
I can supply a few people this fall with nests of Japanese
Hornfaced bees. There will be a charge.

Bee Links:
Tube Suppliers (you can build your own by drilling in wood
[which can be very tedious] I'm experimenting with drilling in
sumac branches):

Other resources including sources for bees: BEE NESTING MATERIALS

Excellent Book:

Chris Mauchline
SE PA, zone 6
40° 5' N 75° 51'W
~650 ft elevation

>Orchard mason bees seem to get alot of attention in the >gardening press. I
>think it is time bumble bees get some respect, too. Here's >my story to
>explain why...

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