Red Mason Bee

Osmia bicornis

Red Mason Bee

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by chris_dagorne (All rights reserved)
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A close up image of a red mason bee osmia bicornis perched on a grey rock
creative commons icon
by chris_dagorne (All rights reserved)
1 of 10
Osmia bicornis, or Red Mason Bees, are a solitary bee specialising in aerial nest building. You can find these bees in the holes in walls and timber, or sometimes they'll choose the hollowed-out stems of plants. Having found a suitable site for a nest, a female will then start to forage for nesting materials, more specifically, mud. They use this to mould individual chambers, in which they lay one egg on a ball of sticky pollen. If you look closely, you can sometimes see females carrying pellets of mud back to nesting sites. These bees are particularly fond of flowering fruit trees. O. bicornis is described as a docile bee, who are reluctant to sting.
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Traits

Red mason bees are important pollinators in orchards.
May nest in human-made structures in the garden.

Appearance

Adults: Osmia bicornis is roughly the size of a honeybee, but there are some different features between the two. They're attractive, boasting bright gingery fuzz that covers the majority of the abdomen. The antennae are long, and the compound eyes elongate. They possess long tufts of hair on the face. Males are less striking in comparison. They're smaller with red-brown hairs and white-grey tufts on the face. Larvae and Eggs: Gardeners don't generally see these because they spend their lives inside burrows while developing.

Activity

Diurnal

Personality

Order

Hymenoptera

Family

Megachilidae

Metamorphosis

Complete

Distribution

The UK and widespread across Europe

Biological treatment

These bees are effective pollinators, bringing benefits to gardens. Encourage these bees to your garden by planting bee-friendly flowers and fruiting trees. They can dramatically improve fruit yields! These bees will readily nest in bee blocks and hotels, be sure to research before purchase. Parts must be removable or easily cleaned. Place in a sunny area with shelter from wind and rain.

Chemical treatment

It's not advised to treat gardens with bees. Plants which are in flower should not be sprayed if possible. Bees can be affected even if they weren't intended to be.

Attracts

These bees are essential pollinators in orchards. Some farms buy commercial mason bees to pollinate their crop.
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Knowledge and advice

Search our ever-growing knowledge base to find plants and information. Find out about pests and diseases you should be keeping an eye out for. Watch How to videos or follow step by step guides for tasks in the garden. Free download for your phone or tablet.
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