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The ABC's of Mason Bees

All flourishing gardens have one thing in common- pollination. Read on to learn what all the buzz is about.

What are Mason Bees?

Known for being excellent pollinators, Blue Orchard Mason Bees (or Osmia lignaria) look very similar to the common house fly. Their black bodies and dark blue iridescent sheen make them a standout in the garden from the typical yellow and black striped bees many are used to seeing.

The Blue Orchard Mason Bee (Osmia lignaria)

Unlike the Honeybee and other common garden bees, Mason Bees are non-social and do not create a hive. Instead, they use nest boxes (you'll read more about those later) or small holes found naturally in wood and structures. As a solitary bee, they also do not have a queen. This makes them a very docile worker as they have no one to protect. While they work alone, they do like to nest in groups when possible.

Aren't all bees the same when it comes to pollination?

There are over 150 types of Mason Bees. At Airport Garden Center we sell cocoons for the Blue Orchard Mason Bee, a native pollinator to Washington State. As a native bee they do exceptionally well pollinating our native plants, but also do so well pollinating fruit trees and food crops they were named after it (Blue Orchard Mason Bee).

Mason Bees are also one of the hardest working bees and don't shy away from flying in rain. Unlike Honeybees and the Bumble Bee, Mason Bees carry pollen on their abdomen instead of their legs.