Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Looking for Pollinators? Try Mason Bees

"The orchard mason bee, Osmia lignaria, is an effective early pollinator native to the Western US and Canada. It emerges in the spring, before honeybees. As a pollinator, it is far more efficient than the honeybee by transferring more pollen and visiting more types and numbers of flowers.The male mason bee does not sting. A female is considered non-aggressive, stings only when handled ‘roughly’, or when trapped under clothing. Mason bees are solitary. They do not produce honey; adults feed on nectar and collect pollen and nectar to feed their young. In contrast, wasps also feed on nectar but must hunt for meat to feed their carnivorous larvae.A mason bee looks like a small black fly, but flies only have one pair of wings and bees have two pairs. Mason bees are slightly smaller than honeybees. They fly only after air temperatures rise to about 55degrees F."  Oregon Master Gardener™ Association – Clackamas County ChapterIn Cooperation with Oregon State University Extension Service
"Many who raise mason bees turn to paper liners. These treated paper or cardboard tubes fit into holes in wood or other medium, or are sometimes used alone. The bees nest in the tubes (or “straws”), which can be removed when the bees are mature. Fresh liners in the holes provide clean nest spaces for the following season." Home made mason bee paper liners by Randy Person.

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