Real Estate for the Mason Bee
Check out the new addition to our Native Plant Pollinator Garden – The Mason Bee House! This lovely little home was made and donated by Beautification Committee member Alderman Tom Lombardi.
Encouraging wild mason bees to our native habitat – could help counter the negative effects of declining honeybee colonies.
Every female is a “queen”. These bees lay their eggs inside existing tunnels, such as those left by wood-boring beetles or the hollow stems of pithy plants, or homemade “houses”. After mating and finding an existing tunnel for her nest, the female bee gathers mud in her large jaws and uses it to build a wall at the back of the tunnel – thus the name “mason bee.” Next, she makes dozens of visits to garden flora to collect pollen and nectar, which she heaps into a golden nugget at the end of the tunnel. This nutritious pollen-nectar mass will be her egg’s first meal when it hatches. Finally, she backs into the tunnel and deposits an egg on top of the food source. Once the egg is laid, the female bee collects more mud and uses it to build a wall that seals off the egg inside its own chamber. She repeats this process until the tunnel is filled with well-provisioned eggs, each tucked inside its own cell partition. Then she closes the tunnel with a mud plug to protect her offspring from predators.
Early spring mason bees emerge from hibernation when temperatures reach about 55 degrees. A mason bee will fill as many nesting tunnels as she can during her roughly 4-week life span – pollinating flowers profusely as she forages for food to supply her nest. Then she dies.