The Many Mason Bees of My Garden
Mason bees are pretty popular these days. According to the marketing hype, they’re amazing. You can buy them at the local nursery, order them online, set up a bee hotel to grow more fruit and simultaneously save the bees! It was this message that years ago brought me to the world of maintaining a bee hotel, but it wasn’t long until I realized it is only a small part of a much bigger story.
Virtually all the fussing about mason bees for your garden concerns just one species: the blue orchard mason bee, Osmia lignaria. Although the stats show their pollination abilities are first rate and they’re relatively easy to care for, not to mention fascinating and fun to watch, to stop short of knowing about their equally fascinating
130 North American cousins in the genus Osmia and 60 in the genus Hoplitis would be the loss of an opportunity to see some of nature’s most beautiful bees. As an added bonus, many species can be managed in bee hotels Just like blue orchard bees.
Here’s a sampling of bees from just my neighborhood in the southern Puget Sound region. It’s likely you have a good variety in your own backyard, so head on out and have a look. Spring and early summer are the times you’ll see them.