Looks like a little Lorax

Look at that cute face!

Look at that cute face!

My brother Wayne took some great photos this week of these adorable little mason bees emerging from his homemade bee box.  There are around 130 species of these wonderful pollinators in North America.

mason bee 2

The males are the first to emerge from the nest box.  All of these photos are of males – they have longer antennae than females.  Mason bees, unlike honey bees, are solitary and do not produce honey or beeswax.  No queen bee is needed, as each female is fertile and able to mate and lay eggs.

mason bee 3

Ooops…caught this little fella doing his “business”.  The bee droppings look like mud and it’s my guess that’s what they’re made of since the bees have to chew through layers of mud in order to leave the nest.

mason bee 4

Each female mason bee collects pollen and nectar from flowers to make a ball of food for her young.  She will find a suitable nesting site in a hollow plant stem or an existing hole in wood.  She lays a single egg on top of the pollen ball and then builds a mud wall to seal off the compartment.  She continues to do this until the nest is filled.  The fertilized eggs will become females and these are the first to be deposited.  The unfertilized eggs all become males and these are closest to the opening of the nest.

mason bee 5

mason bee 6

Mason bees are well-adapted to live in areas where the winter temperatures can dip below zero.  They are valuable pollinators for wild flowers since they will fly on spring days that are too cold for honey bees to venture out.  They are also important for many of our food crops including fruit trees and blueberries.

mason bee 7

mason bee 8

Soon after emerging, these little guys were busy feeding from and pollinating the plants in my brother’s front lawn.  In a few days the females should be emerging from the nest box so they can mate and start producing next year’s batch of bees.

Check out these articles:

Mason Bee Boxes

Build Simple Nest Boxes

Attracting Native Bees

Mason Bees Moved In



© 2014, Judy Burris. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

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  1. says

    What great photos! Such cute furry little bees – I miss them. I have had a mason bee house for years and it has declined. I learned that the “tunnels” should be lined or replaced each year to prevent disease. I must take it down this Spring and replace it with one I make – I’m going to use stems from my garden so I can replenish each year. I love the mason bees! Mine tend to be “blue” in color- orchard?
    Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern recently posted..What’s Blooming: Living in a Bubble

  2. says

    Judy, Thanks for an enjoyable, educational blog with great photos. I have sooooo much to learn about bees. I haven’t had much luck attracting them to a Mason Bee house. However, a new one should arrive soon and I hope to see some of these cuties before the season is over. Thanks to Wayne for the photos and to you for the info.
    Betty Hall recently posted..Signs of spring in the woods

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