February 9th, 2022
Mason bees are a species of bee known for their high pollination rates – much more efficient than that of the common Honeybee. In fact, it takes 6 Mason bees to pollinate one fruit tree, compared to 600 Honeybees! Mason bees visit almost 1,000 blossoms per day and pollinate at a 95% success rate. Therefore, these bees play an important role in maintaining a garden’s ecosystem and are becoming more popular as a springtime routine for gardeners looking to maximize their fruit tree yields and flower blooms.
If you have had problems with your fruit trees not bearing enough fruit, you likely need some friendly Mason bees! They help pollinate Apples, Blueberries, Cherries, Peaches, Plums, and many more fruit-bearing crops.
They are also not aggressive and will not swarm. To top it off, they rarely sting! The sting of a Mason bee feels equivalent to a mosquito bite. This makes Mason bees safe to be around children and pets.
The efficient pollination of Mason bees is partly due to their life cycle and behaviour. They are tunnel-nesting creatures, meaning they lay their eggs in existing tunnels. After mating and finding a tunnel to nest in, the male bees die and the female bees go to work by gathering mud and clay to protect the nest as well as pollen and nectar for her egg’s first meal when it hatches. With no queen bee, Mason bees are fast and independent hard-workers.
Did you know every 1 in 3 bites of food we consume is pollinated by bees? This is why it is important to introduce Mason bees into your garden environment with the proper preparation and shelter to optimize their pollination. You will need a Mason bee house, or some type of covered shelter with multiple small holes/tunnels. Did you know the Mason bee controls the gender of her eggs? She places female eggs at the back with more protection and males near the front. This is why it is important to have the tunnels deep enough if you are making your own shelter – at least 6 inches will do the trick.
The location of your Mason bee house matters too! It must be placed against a shelter such as a shed, garage or the side of your home. Unlike a bird feeder which can be placed on a pole in the middle of your lawn, bees do not have the same ability to locate their nest once they have left. Therefore keeping it against a large, flat surface will allow them to execute their task more efficiently. If you don’t have access to this, hanging it on a tree trunk will also work. Since Mason bees only fly within 300 feet of their nest, they will certainly find your garden attractive and stay close to home!
Mason bee activity lasts from spring to late summer, so now is the perfect time to purchase your Mason bees cocoons and shelters. Hunters Garden Centre sells the cocoons in sets of 10, and you can keep them dormant in your refrigerator before releasing them on a warm, sunny spring day with a slight breeze. At Hunters Garden Centre we also carry clay and Petri dishes which you can keep out to provide these hard-working creatures with a nearby source of mud to provide their nest with.
If you have any questions at all about Mason bees, spring pollination or optimizing your garden for an abundant season ahead, we encourage you to speak to one of our experts! Hunters Garden Centre staff at both Surrey and Vancouver locations can help answer all of your questions and suggest the best solution. We are here to serve all your gardening needs, call or visit us in-store today!
Have a great gardening season and ‘bee’ kind!