I saved a Blue Mason Bee this morning!

  • #1
Wasn't really sure where to put this, not pets because it isn't, and not really general discussion. Gardening seemed best because these bees are prized for their pollinating abilities!

I was outside in my PJ's carrying a net around the patio harvesting mosquito larvae from my standing water lures when I came across what looked like an entire nest of baby yellow spiders that had fallen in and was floating on the surface! Now I'm normally irrationally terrified of spiders but I do have a soft spot for the little yellow ones and I grabbed the finest net I had and set out to save them. I scooped the whole mess into the net and dumped it out onto a rock. Lo and behold they weren't spiders at all but a small tree catkin that had fallen apart into little spiderling-sized pieces! In the middle of it though was a dead Mason Bee. I felt bad that I hadn't been able to save it but I touched it and there was the slightest movement! So I picked it up (they're stingless) and held it while it warmed up. It expelled a bunch of disgusting liquid from its abdomen and I decided to place it on a towel outside where it could continue its recovery. Sadly though it stopped moving and appeared to be a lost cause. So I ran in the house and grabbed the jar of blueberry jam. If I'd been thinking I would have grabbed the container of pure Quebec maple syrup instead but blueberry jam was what I saw first. I dipped my finger in the juice and held it out to the bee. I had to hold the juice against its mandibles at first but as it gained strength it started lapping up the sugary stuff on its own and then, like a switch was flipped, it suddenly started moving and grooming out its crumpled and soggy wings!

It looked reasonably ok last time I checked on it, I think it's just waiting for the sun to come up and give it some warmth

The mosquito larvae were not so lucky
  • #2
I'm forever saving Bumblebees. The best food for them is wet sugar.
  • #3
I have the Red Mason Bee in my house (literally!).
  • #4
That was nice of you. I used to rescue dragon flys when they would land in the pool when we lived up north. Take them out and put them on a shub to dry out and fly away. My guess is that the food you gave him gave him instant energy. Alison
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  • #5
I rescued a dragonfly that crashed into my helmet while I was riding my scooter some years ago! I thought for sure it must have been killed but I pulled over and removed it from where it had got jammed between my visor and helmet. It didn't look damaged so I put it under my seat in the storage compartment and carried on my way. Next time I pulled over it had nearly recovered so I put it on a tall plant in a field and left it there

I didn't even know there was a red variety of Mason Bee!
  • #6
I didn;t know anything about mason bees. My guess is they don't live in Mass or if they do I never heard of them.. Alison
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  • #7
It's surprisingly difficult to find information on their home range! It seems that they live all across N. America but the range seems to be patchy. There are also seem to be two different subspecies on either side of the Rocky Mountains. I just know that they're really popular here for gardeners!
  • #8
HI it's the Red Mason Bee Osmia rufa that is the common one here. There are many other wild bees about with fascinating lifecycles.

I am interested in all life and I rather like these little bees (which as mentioned above do not sting but nor do they make honey).

They hatch out on warm days in spring from pupal tunnels in soft masonry.

They mate and the females create new tunnels. These tunnels are successively divided into Individual cells. The bees provision the cells with pollen and a single egg for each cell.

The egg hatches and the larva eats the pollen. It then pupates and waits for suitable conditions to emerge as a bee in the following year. Note that the last egg to be laid has to be the first bee to hatch in the spring.

Many of the pupae are however killed by a fly kleptoparasite. A Kleptoparasite (theft- parasite) is one which takes advantage of the food collected by another. The fly maggots eat the pollen and the dormant bee in its pupa and may consume several or all of the cells.

Other pupae are killed by mites, wasps and beetles.

Whilst the adult bees will remove any of these when building the nest the larvae and dormant bees have little defence.

The adults have hairy bodies to help collect the pollen and they are important pollinators of many spring flowers, especially apple trees.

It has been found that the 250 species of wild bees in Britain are important pollinators as the honey bees kept by man do not pollinate all plants.

Only 10-15% of crops are pollinated by honey bees so wild bees and other insects are very important.

It has also been found for example that the wild Red Mason Bee is 120 - 200 times more efficient at pollinating flowers than the Honey Bee.

Occasionally a Red Mason Bee will come through our keyhole as they cannot resist investigating potential nesting sites. Unfortunately, they die of desiccation indoors if they are not found in time.
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  • #9
Excellent write-up! Thanks Redshark1

Mason Bee houses are very popular here and you can get little tubes to insert into the holes.

  • #10
Great, I've found them online here too so I'll make myself a Mason Bee House (especially as my mortar has all but crumbled away now!). My little bees are ginger in colour. Thanks!
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  • #12
When I was in Grade 3 (maybe it was 2) I was supposed to do a report on a Canadian animal. I did it on the honeybee. My teacher declared that they were not an animal and I was wrong to choose them for my report. It took me years to learn to stand up to my teachers when they were in the wrong:-\

Nice video!
  • #13
Insects are always beneficial for nature, you did a good job in saving the bee.
  • #14
The Blue mason bees are excellent in pollinating fruit trees. I have not been gardening for long but often I keep reading articles to keep myself updated. I am thinking of redoing my garden a few weeks into the spring by pruning away all the old branches in the trees. This will lead to a lot of yard waste. Should I hire a junk removal company or can I do it on my own? I have already shortlisted a junk removal company ( ) but I am thinking of getting their service once I get an insight on this. If I can remove the yard waste on my own, how can I do it? Any tips on this would be great.
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  • #15
What kind of fruit trees? I just hauled home 2 carloads of apple and pear branches for my chinchillas and I know that people who smoke meat and fish really like it for that. You might not have to pay anyone
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