Wish to take steps to help a regionally discovered, native pollinating insect? Think about the Mason bee
With nationwide pollinator week approaching later this month, it is very important acknowledge the number of pollinators that exist along with Honey bees. For individuals who wish to take steps to help a regionally discovered, native pollinating insect, contemplate the Mason bee.
Mason bees are main pollinators of orchards and a few business crops, however you may typically discover them buzzing round a yard backyard. All informed, there are 140 species of Mason bees in North America. They’re a few ½ inch in size and may range in coloration throughout species. Some Mason bees can be metallic inexperienced, whereas others are darkish blue or black. Others resemble a small black fly, however flies solely have one pair of wings and bees have two pairs.
Simply as a brick mason makes use of a concrete mortar to set bricks, Mason bees use mud to assemble their nests in preexisting cavities. The male Mason bee doesn’t sting. A feminine is taken into account non-aggressive, stings solely when dealt with ‘roughly,’ or when trapped below clothes.
These bees are inclined to favor tube-shaped or asymmetrical flowers akin to vegetation from the mint and legume households. One Mason bee particularly, the Blue Orchard bee, is a well-liked business pollinator. It emerges within the spring, earlier than honeybees. As a pollinator, this early spring work makes this species of bee extra environment friendly than Honey bees when pollinating sure orchard crops. They’re able to go to extra flowers and may switch pollen extra successfully.
If we adopted one Honey bee and one Mason bee, you’ll discover the Mason bee a tougher employee that visits extra flowers. However we use Honey bees as a result of we’re capable of transfer a number of hives with tens, if not a whole lot, of 1000’s of Honey bees right into a location to pollinate a crop. On the contrary, Mason bees are solitary bees. Although we are able to transfer them round, agricultural producers can not transfer sufficient numbers of them round to match with the extra fashionable Honey bees. Plus we get honey from Honey bees!
The solitary Mason bees selected nest places in hole stems, cracks in between stones, and cavities in wooden. Within the spring when Mason bees emerge from their nest, the females will mate after which will seek for a brand new nesting web site quickly after. She’s going to accumulate pollen and nectar to create a mix that’s used as provisions for creating brood.
Growing the variety of Mason bees round your own home backyard requires a lot fewer supplies than a hive for Honey bees. You possibly can present a nesting web site for Mason bees simply outdoors a window of your own home, similar to you’ll hold up a chicken home to look at them from the consolation of your chair.
The nesting holes for Mason bees needs to be ¼ to three/8 inch in diameter and at the least 3 inches, ideally 6 inches, deep. The outlet needs to be open solely on the entry finish. Mason bees desire wooden (not pressure-treated or cedar) by which to nest however will use different supplies.
You can also make Mason bee nesting websites by drilling holes right into a block of wooden. Place the nest in a dry, protected web site ideally with east or southeast publicity. You can even take a big soup can or small espresso can and fill it with paper straws or hole bamboo stalks of the proper measurement. With wire or string, place the nesting can on its aspect and hold outdoors, ideally close to a window the place you may view it.
A number of parasites, predators, and pathogens can injure or kill Mason bees. Being an insect, this battle for survival has gone on for eons, and is part of nature.
Pollinator week is June 21-27 this 12 months. Lets do our half to help agriculture and take care of the surroundings by serving to our pollinators.
Written By: Cary Simms, Ag and Pure Sources County Agent, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Angelina County