Orchard Mason Bees

Mason Bee House
Image provided by
John Edwards

Orchard Mason (Osmia Lignaria) are solitary bees that nest in holes and cavities found in wood. They pollinate but do not produce honey. The biggest difference between Mason and honey bees is that mason bees are less aggressive and do not produce honey. Mason bees are native to North American and are better pollinators because, during their life cycle, they only collect pollen to provide food for their next generation. No other foraging. Their foraging season and lifespan only last around 5 weeks.

Why Mason Bees?

Mason bees are perfect for those looking to pollinate a garden or orchard who do not want to maintain a full hive of honey bees or are concerned with producing honey. Mason bees are a low maintenance species. All you will need for them is a safe, sheltered location to place their nest and nearby pollinator plants. The Mason bees foraging range is only around 100 yards. Mason bees are a less aggressive breed of bees and, while they can sting, it is a mild sting and must be pushed hard to become aggressive. Because of their gentle nature, they are perfect for families with kids.
What Will I Need?

Mason bees are very low maintenance. You will need somewhere to protect them from the weather and pests and provide them nearby access to pollinator plants (their foraging range is much smaller than honey bees, approximately 100 yards). This can be provide by a House that you can fill with pre-drilled cartridges or hollow cardboard tubes. You will want to provide the bees with plenty of sunlight but also keep them protected from moisture. Using cartridges and tubes with liners also make it much easier to remove the cocoons for winter storage.