Red Mason Bee

Osmia bicornis

Red Mason Bee

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
by chris_dagorne (All rights reserved)
1 of 10
Osmia bicornis, or Red Mason Bees, are solitary bees. You can find these bees in the holes in walls and timber, or sometimes they'll choose the hollowed-out stems of plants. A female will build her nests using 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 a docile bee and reluctant to sting.
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Red mason bees are important pollinators in orchards.
May nest in human-made structures in the garden.


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 hair that covers the majority of the abdomen, with 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.











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.


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