A Lesson in Breeding Mason Bees

It was a vibrant spring morning as Eliza, the owner of Best Kept Secret B&B in Glenwood Springs, CO, brought out containers filled with bamboo canes. Burrowed inside these canes were Mason bees, ready to be released from their cocoons.  Kept in the refrigerator all winter to protect them from predators, and so the bees wouldn’t accidentally get too warm, the bamboo rods were filled with Mason bees in cocoons, ready to hatch.

Mason Bees are a type of solitary bee, a non-colonizing variety of bee that is gentle and not aggressive since they don’t have a hive to protect. In addition to being non-aggressive, Mason bees pollinate a thousand times more than honey bees–so your garden will benefit from their presence.

As Eliza pulled the bamboo from their winter containers and inserted them into their spring home she explained the life cycle of the bees. The Mason Bee drops pollen into the bamboo and then lays eggs in the pollen. The egg feeds on the pollen while in the cocoon and then hatches in the spring. The babies break through the dam of pollen earning the name “Mason” bee.

The male eggs are laid on the outer sides of the rod with the least protection because if the males die off, the females inside are able to carry on because they can lay female eggs without being fertilized.

It was a fascinating early-morning lesson. If you’d like to learn more or buy some for your garden, check out Mason Bees for Sale.


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