Guest post by Maude Stephany
Ever thought about keeping bees but honey bees are too much of a time or financial investment, then perhaps you should consider attracting Mason Bees. Here is a FAQ about these super pollinator bees.
What is a Mason Bee?
A mason bee is a solitary bee, which is one of the wild pollinators which already exists in this area. There are several varieties of these mason bees; the best-known is the blue orchard mason bee. Now, you won't see a mason bee in your backyard right now. That's because it's sleeping and waiting for spring to come before it emerges as an adult. This years' mason bees are dead and gone. They worked for just a short while, and then disappeared sometime in July or perhaps in August.
Blue orchard mason bees (and most mason bees for that matter) don't have the typical yellow and black markings that we associate with bees. Instead, the blue orchard mason bee is dressed all in black (with a bit of shiny blue tint) and sports a short white "mohawk" on its head.
Why Mason Bees?
Mason bees are amazing pollinators; it is said that one mason bee does the work of 100 honey bees! That means that, if you're looking for a super-powered pollinator for your early-flowering food crops (apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, blueberries, strawberries, some nut trees), mason bees are a superb way to get more of your crops pollinated with far fewer bees. Mason bees are solitary bees - they do not have a queen or a hive. Mason bees are typically non-aggressive. They are very docile and rarely sting. If they do sting the severity of the sting has been likened to that of a "mosquito bite" and can be easily treated. Mason bee houses are small, and can be put up in almost any yard.Mason bees need very little care/maintenance in order to thrive.
Honey bees vs Mason Bees
Honey bees produce honey. Mason bees produce more bees.Honey bees get defensive when protecting their hive and their queen. Mason bees are mellow - they rarely sting.Honey bees need a lot of care and you need a lot of room to keep them. Mason bees are fairly low-maintenance and you can keep them in even a small yard.Honey bees often need new queens to be brought in for the health of the hive. Each female mason bee lays about 30 eggs or so in her lifetime, which produce both male and female bees.There are many restrictions on keeping honeybees in urban centres. At this time, the keeping of mason bees is not restricted in any way in urban centres.
Benefits of attracting mason bees:
Low maintenance/Easy careNon-aggressive, mild stingEasy for kids/families/schools to work on as a project INCREDIBLE POLLINATOR = higher yields for your early-blooming food cropsBut most importantly: the best reason to learn more about mason bees, attracting them and caring for them is simply that they're AMAZING creatures.