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8 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Mason Bees

February 11, 2018

Mason bees are the types of bees we commonly see in the garden and different from honey bees in many ways. They are among the easiest types of bee to raise and known to be gentle and non-aggressive. They are called mason bees simply because they use mud and some other kinds of construction materials to make their homes (nests) while serving many benefits to man. There are more than 140 mason bee species found in North America including blueberry bee species which can also be found in large colonies.

They are raised in solitary and carefully placed in a garden to make them increase in population while gardeners have found them to be beneficial in many ways. They are known for their effective pollination and have been doing excellent job in helping fruits and crops. However, they can be used as educational projects and have the potential to protect the environment. Mason bees look much like houseflies and live in hive or nest without a specific queen.

Mason Bees Hive

Mason bees are making the world a healthy place through their pollinating power of many of our food crops in the garden. Gardeners that know the benefits of these solitary bees will want to keep them in hive and increase their population.Mason bee hive is a small box where bees are kept in order to reproduce. 

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It is usually an enclosed box commonly made of wood – an artificial structure to house bees with the inside made of beeswax-made cells in shape of the hexagon.

The cells are mainly used to store food such as pollen and to serve as house to the eggs and growing bees. The beehive is very helpful in many ways and beside housing large colonies of bees for reproduction purposes – it helps to pollinate crops in nearby gardens. There are factory-made beehives that you can easily buy in the market, but some people prefer to construct it at home.

Their Lifecycle

Every female in mason bee colony is fertile and would lay eggs and makes nest on her own without the protection by worker bees. They protect their eggs by forming a chamber very deep and cover it up with mud. After few days of mating with male, the female bee prepares a nest in which she fills up with heaps of pollen and nectar. She lays eggs after making several trips to gather as much pollen as she can before dying.

All these processes – gathering of pollen and laying of eggs happens during springs while the eggs hatch into larvae and become adult bee around the month of September. The life span of a female mason bee is about 4 weeks during which she pollinates flowers, fruit trees, and crops in the process of searching for food to provide for her nest.

8 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Mason Bees

1. Do They Sting?

Mason bees are gentle and unlike honeybees, they are very beneficial to man and do not sting. They are powerhouses in crop and flower pollination while its biggest advantage over other species of bees is its inability to sting unless placed under duress, particularly when squeezed.

Male mason bees are not aggressive and won’t sting because they do not have queen to guide and protect. However, the females too, are unlikely to sting because they are mostly fertile, but if they are faced with unfair threats like when handled wet, the sting is far less than what honeybee does.

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2. How to Attract Them?

Mason bees are not difficult to attract because they are friendly insects that are simple to be raised. Their popularity with gardeners as well as farmers make many people want to keep them in colony and used as pollinators of fruits and crops. Because they are considered to be used extensively in a place where fruit trees are grown (orchard) or in crop gardens – it has become a common thing to build up massive population of mason bees. Before you start to attract mason bees into your garden, there are basics things you need to understand about these solitary insects. First, you should know that every female is fertile and can lay eggs and raise young bee on her own.

Actually, they are not aggressive and unlikely to sting and they usually lay eggs in wooden hive or stems of plants. You should however get a nesting tunnel ready before you start to attract them. The spring months are the most proper moments you can attract mason bees and you would need to have prepared bee food and a source made of mud.

You can either buy or make mason bee houses in form of wooden nests with about 5/16" diameter holes (minimum of 20 holes). In order to avoid problems of parasites and pests, the nest has to be protected and used properly – preferably by placing it on the tree or fence or side of building where morning sun will keep them warm.

3. Where Do They Live?

Mason bees are unlike other species of bees that live in hive, they prefer to nest in holes, and because they are not social and without a queen, every mason bee works alone but would like to come nesting together in colony. 

They can be kept in a nesting box positioned on a fence or side of a building facing the South or East. The appropriate height to place the nest box above the ground should be 7 feet and not to far from plants and trees rich in pollen, hence enabling the bees get quick access to food.

4. Do They Make Honey?

Mason bees are not honey or beewax-making bees but very helpful in big harvest of crops and fruits. They are excellent pollinators – 200 to 300 mason bees can pollinate acres of farm land.

5. How To Kill Them?

Though mason bees are considered to be beneficial to man, especially in pollinating crops and fruits, but their nests can as well create problem to our homes. What’s more – they can cause serious damage to garden plants by chopping off part of the leaves and the plants may not survive. Spraying insecticide powder and pesticide on their nests are the most effective way to kill mason bees.    

6. How Mason Bees Cause Damage to Home?

Mason bees are very active when building their nests using mud and some other particles such as soft materials from sand. And in the process of building their nests in tunnels or holes around homes, they create channels that would enable rain water to get into the building, hence causing weakness of the structures. The control of mason bees is imperative in order to avoid future damage to our homes that could later cost a lot to repair.

They are well known to complete their lifecycle in holes and cement of bricks used to build our homes while moving further to attack places like window frames, walls, roofs and wooden materials in homes. Though, we may consider mason bees to cause little damage when they are not in big numbers, but they cause enormous problems when they migrate in huge numbers and creating nests in mortar and walls. In order to keep mason bees out of our homes, proactive control is required either by the homeowners or experts in pest control.

7. How Difficulty Is It to Control Mason Bees?

You definitely need to get rid of mason bees if you want to prevent them from damaging your home, plants and crops. However, getting them out of home walls may proof difficult than you ever imagine because you need to fill up all the holes created by them during nesting. The holes also need to be treated to prevent re-nesting on the same spots and total elimination of mason bees is required in order to get the best result. In some cases, the services of pest control experts are needed to effectively get rid of mason bees because when they eventually have their nests created under tiles of home roof, they are very difficult to eliminate without professional intervention and use of pesticides.

Insecticidal dusts are also very effective in the control of mason bees especially during the months when the weather are cool and when the bees are not known to be active enough to resist the control. By considering the fact that mason bees have their advantages, particularly in pollination of crops and plants – some people would still need them around, but they can be controlled by keeping them away from our homes by making artificial nest box far from home in which they continue to complete their lifecycle and doing good work without causing damages.

8. How to Stop Them From Destroying Plants?

Mason bees target plants that have some kinds of attractions and features they really prefer and won’t hesitate to finish up their leaves if not checked. It doesn’t take them much time to completely destroy a plant because they are always at work at any time especially during the night. Gardeners and farmers will have to apply proper control measures in order to prevent masonry bees from damaging very important vegetables, fruits, crops and plants. There are different types of pest control concentrates available to chase away or possibly kill mason bees. By applying highly repellent substance like Cypermethrin mixed with water to treat plants that are mostly targeted by bees, the strong repellent power will keep them off the plants and they will move on. Because mason bees are more active at night and will likely attack plants during this moment, it is wise to spray the plants with the concentrate in the evening before it is completely dark.

Cypermethrin are powerful repellent to all insects and will be effective for two to four days after applying it on plants. By spraying the plants every 2 or 3 weeks will chase bees away while the concentrate is odorless and has no negative impact on the plants. Whether used when mixed with water or as dust – this product is also good to protect home from bees attack. The bees will stay away from homes and plants once they detect this product and eventually be forced to find new home elsewhere. It is easy to apply and can be done by everyone and not harmful to humans when applied according to instructions.

Damages Cause to Plants and Crops

Mason bees are solitary insects – which indicate that every female is fertile and can have her own nest which is independent of others. You will find so many nests near each other without conflict and they always have extensive territories covering large areas. 

They are important in pollinating plants and crops but also known to be leaf cutters. The damage done to plants, flowers and crops can be real and have extreme effect on the reproduction of plants. By cutting away the inner circle of plant leaves that they find quite attractive to them, the plants will cease to grow and may eventually die.

Get Help From Pest Ccontrol Experts

We always think that mason bees can easily be controlled or killed not taking their population into consideration. When they are in large numbers, it becomes very difficult to get rid of them and may cost lots more trying to do it all alone. A pest control company has the knowledge of everything about mason bees – from egg laying to hatching of larva, pupal stage and mature bees. The pest control experts provide pest control services to homeowners, gardeners, and farmers by using the most effective methods to chase away or kill mason bees found in homes and farms.

But they also know how important they are to some people and the environment, and possibly need not to kill them but will proffer alternative methods of control. Some of the methods used to keep bees off homes include relocating their nests to far places and changing the substance that is put between bricks and stones in walls of homes. The pest control provided by these experienced technicians will ensure long-term control of mason bees, hence preventing your homes and plants from frequent attack. In a situation where "Do It Yourself" failed to yield result, it is advisable to consult pest control experts who know both the benefits and disasters caused by mason bees.       

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