Not all bees live “communally” in hives. In fact, our most prolific bee pollinators are not the popular honeybees or bumble bees. “Solitary” or nesting bees, specifically mason bees and leaf cutters, don’t live socially in traditional beehives like their honeybee counterparts, but they’re quite extraordinary in what they do and how they live.
Of the 20,000 known species of bees, mason bees stand out as some of the best, most prolific pollinators. Protecting the diversity of bee populations is one way to support our planet by increasing our desperately needed global pollination. Crown Bees is helping with that effort in a big way.
Diversity in the World of Bees
From the tiniest Perdita Minima bee to the hulky female carpenter bee, we are reliant on the bee population for about one in three bites of our food, not to mention their role in pollinating cotton and the exotic foods we love, like coffee and chocolate.
So, why is diversity in the bee population important? It matters because each bee species has varied needs for specific pollens and weather conditions. They possess unique body features designed to meet their needs and the diverse roles they fill, like sustaining trees, flowers, plants, and interconnected ecosystems which best support the life of their species. Our friends at Crown Bees are experts at championing bee diversity, particularly with their strong commitment to helping us raise solitary, or nesting bees.
Fun And Easy Mason Bees
Solitary nesting bees may be our greatest hope for the ever-dwindling bee population.
Mason bees are especially gentle-natured and are extremely prolific pollinators. They live alone in secluded environments, nesting in the nooks and crannies of hollow stems and reeds, holes left behind by other insects, bee houses and often, directly in mud or clay (thus the term “mason”).
The great news is that mason bees are easy and fun to raise at home, and their contribution to pollination is enormous. Provided with a bee nesting house or other compatible lodging, mason bees will proliferate and supply your garden with an incomparable rate of pollination and cross-pollination.
Unlike more endangered species, mason bees also deliver earlier spring pollination in our gardens and farms, and they have other loveable attributes, as well. Crown Bees is dedicated to supplying healthy bees and everything required to raise them at home. Remember, these bees don’t need traditional hives and they aren’t in the business of creating honey, but their value in the garden is unmatched.
For communal bees like honeybees and bumble bees, the process of collecting pollen, combining it with saliva and storing it in leg pouches makes their pollen exchange activities somewhat complex. However, mason bees and other solitary nesting bees do it in an easier way. They amass a substantial amount of pollen on their hairy underbellies, keeping it dry and available for transferring from plant to plant, tree to tree. So, while honeybees pollinate around 5 percent of the plants and flowers they visit, mason bees pollinate around 99 percent! Imagine the abundance of garden plants and flowers when they’re receiving that much more pollination and cross-pollination.
“A single mason bee can do the work of 100 honey bees! Masons
can visit thousands of flowers a day with a pollination rate of
99%. Contrast that with honey bees, who visit around 700 flowers
a day and only pollinate about 5% of flowers visited.”
When mason bees emerge from their cocoons in early spring, they are fully mature. Unafraid of coolish weather, they begin foraging while conditions are still wet and chilly in the early spring, unlike other bee species that require warm weather to start pollinating. Mason bees emerge from their nests ready to go to work once daytime temperatures are consistently 55 degrees F, or 13 C.
Parenting Gentle Mason Bees
With a little help from our friends at Crown Bees, mason bees are easy to raise and so much fun to watch. Not only are they great pollinators, they rarely sting! These gentle creatures don’t have hives that they need to protect and defend, which makes them more peaceful and safer around children and pets.
Watching these busy creatures emerge and begin to visit your native plants is a fun way to support your garden, as well as contribute to the health of the planet, Children enjoy watching these bees bounce from one plant, flower, and tree to the next, making bee parenting a great family activity.
Now Is The Time!
Mason bees are active in your garden for only 4-6 weeks, so getting them settled in before early spring arrives is important. They spend much of their lives inside their cozy nesting chambers where they eat, grow and work on their cocoons. Once the temperatures warm up a bit, they emerge from their nests as fully formed adults, ready to begin their spring foraging.
Crown Bees offers nesting mason bees for sale with everything you need for raising them. The experts at Crown Bees have developed kits that include solitary bee houses, comfy and snug nesting materials, a packaged mix to concoct a bit of their favorite mud and complete instructions for raising them. The bees and all the bee-raising products you purchase from Crown Bees are bee-safe and sustainability-focused. The folks at Crown Bees partner extensively with beekeepers, researchers, universities, nonprofits, and government agencies to ensure the best practices in these challenging times.
Crown Bees invites you to join a strong community of bee lovers. Learn all you need to know about raising mason bees with their beautiful Beginner’s Guide. Subscribe to Crown Bees’ Bee Mail newsletter for seasonal reminders and tips, and check out their incredibly informative blog. You will be astounded at how your garden will flourish with these busy pollinators, and Crown Bees is your perfect connection to being the best bee parent possible.
One final note: Crown Bees reminds us that there is no hive-hierarchy among solitary cavity-nesting bees, therefore every nesting bee is a “Queen” and deserves a crown!
The above article was sponsored by Crown Bees. The information contained in this article may contain ads or advertorial opinions.
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Caroline Bloomfield is Manager of Marketing Communications at Gardening Know How since 2019. A northwest native, she has resided and gardened in multiple zones in the U.S. and is currently at home in Eugene, Oregon. Writing and editing for various publications since 1998, her BA in American Studies from Southern Maine University includes an emphasis in English. She was raised in California by avid gardeners and continues to enjoy the natural world with an appreciation for the concepts of sustainability and organic care for the planet.