Mason Bees

Osmia rufa is one of the first bees you can expect to take up residence in a bee post.  It is one of our most common bees.

This is another bee that causes concern each spring. The red Mason bee nests in all kinds of holes or crevices, frequently in numbers, in crumbling masonry. It’s very unlikely that the bee causes much, if any damage to buildings, as it only excavates mortar that is already crumbling. The female uses mud to construct her cells, hence the name mortar bee. She has two special horns on her face that she tamps mud with during nest building.

What use are solitary bees?

Many solitary bees are very efficient pollinators. In the UK, bees of the genus Osmia, known as orchard bees, are used for pollinating fruit trees. Also, a leafcutter bee is used to pollinate Alfalfa crops in North America and Australia.

It’s very likely that solitary bees are important for the pollination of many plants. Some species are quite specialized and have close connections with certain types of plants.

Do solitary bees sting? 

Yes, they can, but here’s the good news: Only the females sting and they have feeble stings. They will only attempt to sting you if roughly handled. Solitary bees live solitary life-styles, so they do not gang up on you in terrifying numbers. In fact they don’t gang up on you at all. They hardly bother to defend their own nests! In short, they are virtually harmless.

c/o Insectpix