Tips For Raising Mason Bees Osmia sandersoneae, F, face Photo: USGS

Tips For Raising Mason Bees

Mason Bees

Raising mason bees has become a very popular trend, especially for avid gardeners and hobbyists who are fascinated by other species of pollinators such as honey bees, birds and bats. If you want to learn about the care of mason bees, listen to this segment of The Organic View Radio Show as host, June Stoyer talks to Colorado beekeeper, Mr. Tom Theobald about what you need to know to raise them. Learn tips about identification, care, fun facts about mason bees and more! To listen to the interview, please press the play button on the video below. We hope you enjoy all of the beautiful pictures of these amazing creatures!

Facts About Mason Bees

Scientific classification:

Kingdom: Animalia

Clade: Euarthropoda

Class: Insecta


Osmia Lignaria blue orchard mason bee

Osmia Lignaria Blue Orchard Mason Bee

Order: Hymenoptera

Suborder: Apocrita

Superfamily: Apoidea

Family: Megachilidae

Genus: Osmia


Mason bees are often confused with house flies because they look similar to the blue housefly or bluebottle fly. If you listen closely, you will be able to determine if it is a fly or a bee. (Hint: house flies make a humming sound whereas mason bees make a buzzing sound.)

Difference between Mason Bee Osmia lignaria & The Blue House Fly


  • Unlike honey bees, they are solitary bees.
  • Pollination is what they do best! They are especially good at pollinating fruit trees! 

  • Mason bees forage in a limited radius of 300 yards, 3 football fields or a radius of about a block. 

  • Six mason bees will pollinate one fruit tree, compared to 10,000 honeybees!
  • Mason bees carry pollen on their bellies rather than on their hind legs.


  • Many times mason bees are called “mud bees” because they partition and seal their nesting chambers with mud.
  • Sometimes they are called “twig bees” for adopting hollow twigs as their nesting chamber.

Blue orchard mason bee using a bamboo nesting tube. Photo credit- Jason Gibbs, MSU

  • Mason bees are not destructive insects. They only use holes found in nature or provided by man.
  • Mason bees nest in holes. They use clay to make partitions and to seal the entrance. 

  • Usually, several eggs will be laid in each nest.

  • Female eggs are laid in the rear of the hole and males in the front.

  • The eggs are fed pollen and nectar, then sealed with mud for protection against the cold.

  • Each female bee will build 3-5 separate nests.

  • They will collect the pollen and nectar for each egg. This takes about 2 dozen separate trips.


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