Click here to play         Read by Matthew

Welcome back to Buzzline! I expect if you did not release your Red Mason Bee’s before Easter then you have done so this week. So now we can expect over the next 8 -10 weeks to see the female Red Mason Bee making many trips in and out of the Webcam Bee Box to collect pollen from flowers and plants to line the trays in your Box before she lays her eggs.

Fact of the Week: After leaving the nest male Red Mason Bees only live for 2 to 3 weeks. Time enough to mate with the female but they play no part in collecting pollen to feed the eggs.

Where do Red Mason Bees Nest?

In the wild, female Red Mason Bees do not have the opportunity to store the pollen they collect in a Bee Box so where do they choose to nest?

Popular places include: holes in the mortar between brick walls, sunny sandy banks, fallen dead logs, small holes in mature hedgerow bushes and hollow plant stems.

Unusual places include: holes in a flint stone, locks and shed guttering!

Inside a Red Mason Bee Nest

Spring and early summer

Wherever, a female Red Mason Bee chooses to locate her home the inside of the nest will always look the same. Lots of cells each with a single egg and food (pollen) and separated from the next by a layer of mud. The cells with the female eggs are at the back of the nest and the cells with the male eggs at the front. If you stand a few metres away from your Bee Box this spring and summer and watch closely you will see the female transporting mud pellets to close each single nesting cell and pollen to feed the growing eggs.

Autumn and winter

By the end of September the female Red Mason Bee will have sealed the front entrance of the nest to stop other insects entering. Inside, the eggs will have “moulted” 4 or 5 times before hatching into larvae. Once the larvae are fully grown each will spin around its body a tough brown silk cocoon and it is here they will hibernate until the following spring when the new generation of adult Red Mason Bees emerge and the cycle begins again.

Photographs:

Top: Red Mason Bee Homes    Bricks and log piles

Middle: Red Mason Bee eggs    Bottom: Red Mason Bee Cocoon

Next report: Monday 24th April 2017:

How do Red Mason Bees collect Pollen?