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MASON BEE LIFE CYCLE: Mason Bees will normally begin to appear in early spring, usually in March or April depending on location. They mate soon after emerging from their home and immediately begin their search for pollen and nectar. The females will also begin looking for a new home. If she finds a tube or beetle boring that has previously been used, she will first clean it out. If she finds a nester tube, she will use it immediately.
She will start by going to the back of the tube and laying an egg, depositing some pollen and nectar for food, and building a wall to create a cell. This wall building is why they are called Mason Bees. She repeats this process about 10 times, creating a cell for each egg. This activity usually continues through June, then they will begin dying. But the eggs are now hatching and eating the food that was left for them. The larvae go through their entire cycle inside each individual cell, molting 4 to 5 times. Around August they will spin a cocoon and begin gradually developing into an adult Mason Bee.
GENERAL INFORMATION: Mason Bees are often referred to as solitary bees because they do not have a social order like honey bees and bumble bees. They do not have a queen or a hive and they do not make honey. However, they are perfectly happy making a nest right next to each other.
Mason Bees are such effective pollinators because they have a lot of hair on their body which picks up pollen. Unlike honeybees which clean themselves after each visit to a flower and lose 90% of the pollen, the Mason Bees carry all of their pollen from flower to flower.
Mason Bees tend not to sting because they are not a social bee and do not have a hive or a queen to protect. The only way to get one to sting is to squeeze it, and even then it probably won’t sting.
Fortunately Mason Bees are not susceptible to the Varroa mite which has caused such havoc with honey bees all over north America.