I am a huge fan of my mason bees. Over the years, my bee condos have grown so well, I am a veritable bee condo baroness! They are easy to attract, maintain and support, and in turn, they support us by bee-ing master pollinators. Read along to see if these solitary bees would have a home in your yard too! Now is the time to start your own little bee condos!
Mason bees are named for their habit of using mud or other “masonry” products in constructing their nests, which are made in naturally occurring gaps such as between cracks in stones or other small dark cavities.
The benefit of Mason Bees is that they are excellent pollinators, 120 times more effective than honey bees or bumble bees. This is because those bees have a colony to support and carry most of the pollen they collect back to the hive. Mason Bees do not have a hive so all of the pollen they collect stays with them.
Unlike carpenter bees, mason bees are never destructive to homes or other wooden structures because they do not excavate nest holes themselves.
Orchard mason bees collect pollen and nectar from a wide array of wild plants, but they show a strong preference for fruit tree flowers when they are available.
To attract mason bees and keep them happy, they need access to a nest, flowers for food, and a mud source. You can easily make a nest yourself, or you can buy one from a gardening store. Choose flowers that have one ring of petals to make pollination easier, and create a hole filled with soil to form a mud source.
Learn more from the Oregon State University. (PDF for Western Oregon climate)
Are you ready to add some mason bees to your garden?
Pick up in Portland at:
Portland Nursery: mason bees (check for availability)
Birds and Bees PDX Nursery: mason bees (check for availability)