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Latest News! from the Townsend River Walk and Arboretum

Pollinator House Installed: Mason Bees Wanted

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Written by Mark Seder

Mason Bee House at the Townsend River Walk & Arboretum

The honey bee is always forefront when talking about pollinators but there are super pollinators in the forms of Mason Bees.  To provide a home to help support the Mason Bees we have added a Bee House to the TRWA in the sloped wildflower field across from the Pollinator garden,

The house contains tubes that are approx. 1/4 to 3/8 in diameter and 6 in. long.  The tubes are from bamboo and blocks of wood that have been drilled.

Mason bees do not gather in colonies but are solitary with each female fertile.  The female lays about 15 to 20 eggs.  She creates compartments in the tubes from mud, in each compartment she creates a mound of pollen and nectar and then lays a single egg. When the egg hatches the larvae feeds on the food until ready to move on to adulthood by cocoon within the compartment.  The following Spring the adult emerges from the cocoon, leave the tube and is ready to start pollinating.   Eggs laid to the back of the tube are generally female and those toward the front male.   The males emerge first and start mating with the females as they emerge.  They are solitary bees meaning each female is a queen bee and there are no worker bees.

A single female mason bee can pollinate as much as 100 honey bees can pollinate.  A couple of females can pollinate a fruit tree in about 24 hours.  The mason bee uses hairs on its body instead of sacs to gather the pollen.  It is incredibly rare that they use there stinger, so there is very little chance of bee stings.

A female will live for about 6 weeks and a male for about 2 weeks.  

Stop by this Spring and Summer and check out the Pollinator House.

The video shows how the Mason Bee builds her nest.  Fascinating!

 

 

Sources:

Penn State University - Orchard Pollination: Solitary Mason Bees - https://extension.psu.edu/orchard-pollination-solitary-mason-bees

Penn State University - Mason Bees in the Home Garden - https://extension.psu.edu/mason-bees-in-the-home-garden

KCET - The Most Fascinating Facts About Mason Bees - https://www.kcet.org/food-discovery/food/the-most-fascinating-facts-about-mason-bees