• Emily

Mason Bees Pollinate and Fascinate

Updated: Jan 6, 2020

So, what's the big deal about mason bees? Why should we be focusing on them when honeybees are important, too?


Well, first we have to learn a little about honeybees:


Farmers choose to pollinate with honeybees because their hives can be transported to new crops as seasons change. Unfortunately, this process isn't good for the bees, overworking them and exposing them to disease.


 According to Gardener's Supply Company, "Honeybee population levels have dropped by 50 percent in the past 25 years."


It's incredibly unfortunate, and another species needs to fill the gap while scientists and beekeepers are trying to reverse this.


This is where mason bees come in. Many overlook the little guy, a species less prone to issues. They're super simple, rarely encountering widespread disease because they don't live in large groups. And, they're native, so they don't have to be shipped from place-to-place.


Since they're so simple, anyone can raise them and make a big difference with little effort.



 Here's a bit more about why and how:


Pollination:

-Even though honeybees are much larger than mason bees, honeybees successfully pollinate about 5% of the blossoms they visit. mason bees pollinate 95%.

-The average mason bee visits 20,000 blossoms a day. According to masonbeesforsale.com, that's enough to pollinate twelve pounds of cherries. It takes sixty honeybees to do the same job.

-Experts recommend 20,000 honeybees for an acre of fruit. Only 250 mason bees get the same job done. For an average garden, one Mason Bee house will raise more than enough

bees to pollinate it.


Cultivation:

-Raising honeybees requires an investment of time and money. Mason bees are easy and inexpensive to raise. Once you build a mason bee house, which is simple to do, they thrive on their own.

-Mason bees don't like to wander far. So, you can guarantee that the bees you raise will stay close to home. They also come back year-after-year.


Fascination:

-Honeybees are aggressive when they feel the need to protect their colonies. Because mason bees are solitary bees, they don't have much of a reason to sting. Only the female bees can sting, and you'd practically have to squish one before it would. Their friendliness makes them perfect for children.

-Honeybees are fun to watch, but their natural aggression can make it difficult. Since mason bees are so friendly, it's easy to get up close and personal. It's the perfect learning opportunity for all ages.




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