Mason Bees for Pollination
Editor’s Note: article courtesy Crown Bees
Tree branches heavy with fruit. Limbs propped up to keep from breaking.“ This image is a gardener’s dream. It’s also a reality at Crown Bees, a supplier of gentle mason bee pollinators and bee products.
Elsie Olesen at Crown Bees explains, “Bees pollinate one-third of our food supply, which relies heavily on the troubled honey bee. With losses of 40 to 50 percent of honey bee hives, we need alternative bee pollinators. Our solution is the gentle, rarely stinging Mason bee. It is an amazing pollinator and a wonderful garden companion.”
A single Mason bee efficiently pollinates 12 pounds of cherries - a task requiring 60 honey bees to achieve the same result. This 1:60 mason bee/honey bee ratio applies to other spring fruits (i.e., apples), flowering plants and nuts (i.e., almonds).
About the size of a house fly, Mason bees stay close to the nest, making them perfect for the backyard gardener. While they don’t produce honey, these bees are fun to observe and easy to raise. Mason bees are native to North America, but have been largely overlooked in favor of the European honey bee. They are solitary bees which don’t live in social hives. They prefer pre-existing holes to build their nests.
Olesen said Crown Bees has spent the past five years increasing awareness about the value of Mason bees for better crop yield. “We help our customers create healthy gardens with Mason bees and bee-safe nesting products.”