Mason Orchard Bee - The Most Industrious Bee You'll Find
Honeybees are becoming fewer than ever. Colonies are collapsing. Yet there is still a special type of bee which is smaller and very hardworking. It's called "Orchard Mason Bees" and it's native to North America.
It's really good at its primary bee job: "Mason bees are far more effective in pollinating trees, shrubs and flowers. They will pollinate 95 to 98 percent of the flowers they visit." A single mason bee will visit up to 1600 flowers each day. In contrast, the common honeybee is much lazier. It will visit only about 15 flowers each day.
Mason bees are much fewer and they also finish their work in the month of May. Their bigger relatives, honeybees, do their work even when it's cold outside.
Mason bees look very similar to houseflies. Don Maitland is a Master Gardener from Fox Island. He first heard about the Mason bees 10 years ago. He was told by a friend that he was mistakenly killing bees instead of houseflies. They look and behave like common houseflies. And they are not dangerous. Only the female has a small sting but she will use it very rarely.
One third of the eggs laid will hatch as females. They will be placed by the mason bees in the deepest part of their nursery tubes. The Mason Orchard Bee can be bought from Wildbirds Unlimited. You can also buy a starter kit with 70 tubes. The tubes are used for growing bees.