When you think of pollinators, you probably think of honey bees and butterflies, but there is an insect that is 120 times more effective at pollination than honey bees. That insect is the mason bee. Mason bees are gentle, solitary bees that are beneficial for any garden.
In this article you will learn all about the mason bee, how to care for them, and where to find mason bee cocoons for sale.
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What is a Mason Bee?
Like the leafcutter bee, mason bees are excellent pollinators. Mason bees are common throughout the US. They are slightly smaller than honey bees and dark colored. Female mason bees are docile and rarely sting. Male mason bees do not even have a stinger.
Mason Bees are solitary bees, meaning that they live and work independently. Unlike honey bees, who live in a colony with a queen, Mason bees build their nest, lay eggs, and forage on their own.
Mason bees do not make any honey, rather they are known for pollination. Just 2 mason bees can pollinate a full grown apple tree alone!
Mason bees get their name from the way they use mud to build their nest. The female mason bee lays an egg in a small cavity. Mason bees do not damage wood by digging cavities, rather they nest inside of an existing hole.
After laying an egg, she packs some food into the cavity and seals it by building a mud wall. She continues this process until the entire cavity is filled up. The female eggs are laid at the back of the cavity, while the male eggs are laid towards the front. This means that male mason bees will emerge before females.
The female mason bee will lay eggs for 4 – 6 weeks, then she will die. Meanwhile the mason bee larvae hatch within a few days. It will spend about 10 days eating the food left in it’s chamber. Afterwards, the larvae will spin a cocoon and pupate.
The mason bee pupa will remain in their cocoons through autumn and winter. Once the weather warms up in the spring, the new mason bees will emerge.
Benefits of Mason Bees
- Excellent pollinators – Mason bees are 120 times more effective in pollination than honey bees.
- Very gentle and rarely stings, great for observation.
- Safe around children and pets.
- No protective gear needed.
- Cocoons are affordable, and you can harvest your own cocoons for next year.
- Can make money via a bee buy back program.
Where Can I Buy Mason Bees Near Me?
Now that you learned about the great benefits of mason bees, you may be wondering, where can I buy mason bees near me? Depending on where you live, it may be difficult to find a mason bee dealer near you. There are just not a lot of places that harvest and sell them.
Luckily, you can easily find mason bee cocoons for sale online. Retailers, such as Crown Bees have made it easy to order mason bee cocoons. All you have to do is choose your shipping date.
Mason Bee Cocoons For Sale
I buy my mason bees from Crown Bees. They offer quality mason bee cocoons for sale, as well as mason bee houses and accessories.
Crown Bees spring mason bees are sold with 20 cocoons per order. You get 8 female and 12 male cocoons, which is the natural ratio you would find in nature.
All cocoons have been harvested and cleaned to prevent pests and disease. Crown Bees will also send you cocoons that are native to your area. They are able to do this by sourcing mason bee cocoons from all over the country.
They are shipped on Mondays between February – April. Ordering is easy – just select your shipping date. The price includes free first class shipping as well.
A good time to schedule your cocoon shipment is 2 weeks before you expect your spring blooms to open. You can also extend your season by releasing half of your cocoons at a time. Just be sure to store your mason bee cocoons in the fridge while they wait to be released.
Tips for Caring for Mason Bees
- Choose the right nesting holes -mason bees need 8 mm sized nesting holes.
- Mason bees need access to moist clay like mud for building their nests.
- If your home does not have clay like mud, use mud mix or a mud box.
- Set up your bee house near a chemical free pollinator garden.
- Place your bee house south to southeast facing so the bees will feel the warmth of the morning sun.
- Make sure your bee house is secure, as mason bees do not like swinging movements.
- Place your bee house 5 feet off the ground. This keeps them away from predators and is a good height for observing.
- Release mason bee cocoons when the daytime temperatures are consistently 55°F.
Mason bees are a great addition to your home garden. They are excellent pollinators, gentle, and very easy to care for. You can find mason bee cocoons for sale online. They are shipped in the spring, from February through April.