How to Enjoy Bees
Insects play an important role in our ecosystem and many species are beneficial to our gardens. Usually insects will find their own homes in our yards and gardens, but we can also help and encourage some of them by providing additional nesting material and sites and by creating backyard habitats.
Honey Bees are very common backyard flying insects. Because Honey Bees are facing problems such as lack of habitat and mites that are reducing their numbers, it is important to provide habitat for them. Honey Bees are colonial insects and live in hives, hollow trees, under eaves and in man made commercial hives.
Orchard Mason Bees
Orchard Mason Bees are small blue-black metallic bees native to the United States and Canada west of the Rocky Mountains. The eastern Orchard Mason Bee is similar except that the horns of the Eastern species point downward. It is about two-thirds the size of a Honey Bee. Orchard Mason Bees were pollinating flower and fruits long before Honey Bees were introduced by the colonists. Orchard Mason Bees differ from Honey Bees in that they do not make their own holes and are dependent on others for a nest site.
Orchard Mason Bees are not a colony nester like Honey Bees. They are a solitary nester using holes they find, like in a bee house, to lay their eggs. The bees fill the hole with food and the female deposits one egg into the hole. The hole is then plugged with mud collected& by the female. Egg laying goes on from spring until June when the adults die. The egg hatches into a larva, eats the food, spins a cocoon that transfers into a pupa and, by the end of the summer, is an adult. The adult stays inside the chamber until next spring when it emerges to complete the cycle again