The Mason Bees Are Awake


Finally finally, the weather seems to have warmed up, and the cocoons in the bee houses are coming to life. The emerging bees will chew a little hole, and crawl out groggily, sit for a moment, then immediately fly off in search of that precious nectar and pollen which awaits within the flowers nearby.

My garden has been a vision of spring bloom lately, so I’ve been anxiously watching to see some kind of activity around the little house, not wanting all this floral abundance to go to waste, at least as far as the mason bees are concerned.

It might be hard to spot the males, but once you see bees going in and out of the little holes, then it’s clearly the females setting up their nurseries.

Mason bee flying back to house

I am not a photographer by any stretch of the imagination and am not equipped with fancy lenses that can capture the magic of in-flight insects, but after taking several shots around 6pm yesterday, I did capture this one lone female, wings outstretched, heading back in with some pollen to start her brood.  There were so many bees coming and going, I could hear the buzz before seeing the action, yet capturing even one picture was a challenge.
The one thing that is needed now is a source of mud for the females to build the cement wall between cells. Get it? Mason bees, making cement.

This is way more mud than they’ll ever need, but it’s always fun to remove clay from the garden.

They prefer clay for their masonry, not regular mud, if possible. I just dug down a little way in the garden soil, and found a good supply of clay, and put it in an old bird bath with some water, but even if there is just any spot in your garden with good moist mud, they’ll figure it out as they always have.

Do let me know the progress of your bee house; are you seeing any cells fill up? This is the fun part.  Once they start, it’s imperative that the house not be moved at all, or the egg can be knocked off the wad of pollen. Leave the house where it is, and let Mother Nature take care of the rest. By September, the cocoons will have fully formed bees in them, and the cycle continues.  Isn’t nature wonderful?