Click here to play                Read By Matthew

Welcome back to buzzline. I expect you have been busy this week watching Red Mason Bees visit plants in your school grounds to feed and collect pollen. Did you know that Red Mason Bees are super pollinators. In fact one Red Mason Bee can do the work of between 120 and 200 honey bees!

Listen and I will tell you how the female Red Mason Bee does this.

Why are Red Mason Bees Perfect Pollinators?

After the male and female Red Mason Bee have mated it is the responsibility of the female to collect pollen for the eggs she will lay in the nest later in the summer.

Like many solitary bees, the female Red Mason Bee does not have any pollen sacs, so when she visits a plant most of the pollen sticks to the lower part of her abdomen. Then when she moves from flower to flower most of the pollen on her body sticks to the next plant.

The Red Mason v The Honeybee

Why is the Red Mason Bee the better pollinator?

When we compare the Red Mason to the Honey bee we notice:

Red Mason Bees can fly in chilly weather and are often busy pollinating when the Honeybee is still in the hive.

At any given temperature, Red Mason Bees visits more flowers per minute than Honeybees.

Red Mason Bees visit many more trees than Honeybees which encourages more cross-pollination.

Female Red Masons carry their pollen on a dense brush of hairs under the abdomen. Honeybees on the other hand mix the pollen with nectar and store it in small sacks on their legs and body so they can transport it safely back to the hive.

Honey Bees will spend a lot more time than Red Mason Bees grooming (cleaning) themselves. This means that their bodies are covered with fewer pollen particles so that when they visit a plant fewer pollen particles rub off.

Red Mason Bees do not store honey unlike the Honeybee which also collects nectar. To collect the nectar the Honey Bee will often land on the side of fruit flowers to reach the nectar and will not touch the pollen-bearing anthers.

Why do we need Red Mason Bees?

Red Mason Bees pollinate our crops and keep our plants healthy. Without Red Mason Bees and other Pollinators, mammals and birds would not have the seeds, berries or plants on which they depend.

Fact of the week. Feeding the human population: Did you know one in three mouthfuls of food and drink require pollination.

Next report: Monday 14th May 2018

Which flowers and plants do Red Mason Bees visit?

Photographs:

Red Mason Bee (Top)    Honey and Red Mason Bees (Bottom)