When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.  ~John Muir

Look what Jordanne spotted  on the earth oven– a red mason bee! What a fascinating fuzzy little bee!

The Red Mason Bee is an excellent pollinator of fruit crops and a wide range of garden flowers. It has a number of advantages over the honeybee as a managed pollinator:

* It flies at temperatures below which the honeybee is grounded.

* At any given temperature, it visits more flowers per minute than the honeybee.

* On any given foraging trip, a female mason bee is more promiscuous in terms of the number of trees visited than the worker honeybee.

* Red Mason does not store honey in its nests: it is entirely pollen driven and uses nectar only as an energy source to satisfy immediate needs, so, unlike the honeybee, it always scrabbles around for pollen when it visits fruit blossoms.

* Red Mason is not as efficient as the honeybee in grooming itself, so when visiting flowers, is much more heavily dusted with pollen and so the chances of pollination are greater.

* Because its pollen collecting apparatus is situated on the underside of the abdomen rather than on the hind leg, there is a greater chance of pollen coming into direct contact with receptive stigmas of flowers.

Courtesy of http://www.btinternet.com/~bury_rd/mason.htm

As caretakers of our little patch of earth, over the years we have noticed an increase in wildlife visiting our little Eden and helping combat bad insects and help with pollination. Are you turning your home into an urban homestead? If so have you noticed new wildlife visiting your garden?  What new creatures or insects have you spotted this year?

:: Resources ::

Build Your Own Mason Bee Nest


  1. Dog Island Farm says:

    I just posted yesterday on my blog, actually, about the biodiversity I’ve been seeing in our garden, including green lacewings and the thread waisted wasp.

  2. Suseon says:

    Only our second year of growing and this year we’ve seen dragonflies, lightning bugs, lady bugs, parasitic wasps, more spiders than I can count, and lacewings that I don’t remember ever seeing before. Still on the lookout for the elusive praying mantis! Birds and mammals have increased too, like bats, goldfinches, and unfortunately a skunk and more ravaging squirrels! The red ants were not nearly as bad this year as years past but I’m still waiting for more ladybugs to eat up all of the aphids we had this year. I’m hoping they stick around through the winter, but not in my house!

  3. Vicki Schoenwald says:

    I have seen honey bees more this year than previous years. I have had many mantis the past 4 years but this year due to a very,very wet spring/cold spring, my mantis population has taken a hit, though I have seen 3 mantis in my herb beds. I used to have many hanging on the south side of my home, but not this year.
    I also have had little tiny toads in my herb beds and ornamental flowers. I gather because of all the wet weather we had, and tons of skitters*.
    I have had very large walking sticks also in previous years but not this year. Since I have converted to a more urban homestead, I have seen the dramatic increase of all sorts of predetory bugs and some weird hard shelled beetles I have never seen before.
    Definitely a rumble in the jungle this year.

    • Anais says:

      @Vicki Schoenwald: Haven’t seen many mantis this year. It’s been pretty cool for summer. Here I am sitting with a sweater on – seriously. Sweater in summer in so cal – what gives? 😉

    • Anais says:

      @Vicki Schoenwald: Love the RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE part. Made me laugh!

  4. kitsapFG says:

    Definitely have a wide array of biodiversity in the garden. However, the honeybees have been too quiet this year because the weather has been cool this summer in our region. I have had to resort to hand pollination of a lot of the cucurbits as a result. I am definitely going to start a mason bee home this next year and see if I can increase the number of pollinators in my garden for future years.

  5. Brenda says:

    We have an urban homestead and just this year I have noticed multiple goldfinches on our sunflowers… this is new to our backyard…

    • Anais says:

      @Brenda: Betcha they are happy goldfinches too!

  6. Annette Triplett @ CoMo Homestead says:

    On the beneficial side, we’ve seen ladybugs, a couple praying mantises and tons of dragonflies. On the pest side, we’ve discovered cucumber beetles, squash bugs, Japanese beetles and squash vine borers. We’re definitely going to have to do some thinking about how to prevent damage from the pests next year.

  7. bianca says:

    ha yes! Since we’ve placed our pond in our yard (with a fountain in the center) we have an abundance of colorful dragonflies! Fire red and fuchsia! And then we have these HUGE toads..TEXAS SIZED! I also have pictures of ducks on our neighbors roof..I assume they were eye-balling our little fishes in our pond! We now have cicada killers (I think that is what you call them) living in the ground in our back yard. We’ve counted about five holes about the size of dimes.
    I have TONS of lizards that gather around my compost all the time..and they hang out in my Wisteria and hostas! Just yesterday, when trimming my wisteria, I disturbed a nest of baby lizards (sooooo cute) about 2 inches in length. They seemed to be just as curious of me as I was of them.

    • Anais says:

      @bianca: We’ve noticed an increase in lizards too. Love dragonflies – we spot one or two from time to time.

  8. Alex says:

    So interesting, thank you for sharing! I hadn’t heard of this variety. I really look forward to getting set up with bees myself.

  9. Mark says:

    I started growing heirloom plants in my two-year-old garden. My neighbor mentioned his tomatoes (that he’s been growing for years) haven’t done so well lately, he said there just aren’t as many bees. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that heirloom plants are more attractive to bees. I’m just going to give him some starts next year.

    • Anais says:

      @Mark: Good idea! Happy growing!

  10. Jeni says:

    Oh man where to begin on all the bugs:) knock on wood we haven’t had to many pests this year. We do get earwigs, but they do not seem to be harming anything or maybe I just haven’t noticed. Everyone around us has said they have tons of blooms but no fruit…with all the bees we have around…huge bumbo bees! Lots of honeybees and some wasps too we do not seem to be having any pollination issues. I want so badly to tell them to go organic and get rid of the pesticides they are using and maybe some of our bugs would fly their way, but I don’t want to be rude:)just yesterday I was digging up our carrots and every where I looked or turned there was a new insect or spider.
    Our neighbors are starting to think we are bit off, this year we planted tomato plants, green beans, radishes and carrots in our front yard and we keep getting the weirdest looks when we are out front…lol

  11. Moonshadow says:

    What do you do about squash bugs? I’ve been checking leaves for eggs but I have too many squash plants to keep up with. I’ve tried checking under the wooden boards that I layed down to walk on but have never found any squash bugs under them. Any suggestions? Between the bugs and the heat, I just haven’t had a very good crop this year.

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