Here at Green Haven Estate, we involuntarily give food and shelter to many fuzzy bees. We have…
And numerous unspecified species like these ones.
This year, we will add another bee: the Orchard Mason bee.
Like the others mentioned above, this Mason bee is friendly to humans but it will defend itself if you corner or squeeze one.
These bees specialize in fruit trees and cross-pollination. If a Honeybee does one section of the tree at a time, these hard workers will visit many flowers in a short period of time but not necessarily on the same tree. Because they live above ground, they are advantageous over the bumblebees, which emerge from the ground, to pollinate an early flowering fruit tree. On the other hand, the Mason bee works only during spring time and has approximately a 300’ radius of action.
All you need are a couple of 5/16” diameter/3” deep holes made from tubes or drilled into some wood.
If you’re serious about Mason bees, you will raise them. That means:
- Install the holes/tubes in a dry and wind-protected location,
- Provide 5/16” diameter/6” deep holes for a better ratio of 2 females for 1 male,
- Move the tubes/block into a dry shelter during the fall and winter months
- Make new tubes every year and throw away the old ones or clean/redrill and sanitize the holes every year.
- Keep some in your fridge because you want to time their emergence correctly with the target fruit trees.
- Make sure they have plenty of food, aka flowers, and mud at the time they emerge from their holes– typically here in central Maryland roughly end of March/early April to the end of May.
For more info, The Orchard Mason Bee: The Life History,Biology, Propagation, and Use of a North American Native Bee by Brian L. Griffin is often the recommended book.