Deep in the roots of mankind, embroiled in their history, secretive and seemingly solitary in their existence are the masons. It may be years before you come to recognise their presence but once you do and the spark ignites the fire of inquisitive yearnings of the desire to know more you will never turn away from them. This is such a lovely solitary saviour that you need to encourage.
We have both the Red Mason Bee (Osmia rufa) and the Blue Mason Bee (Osmia caerulescens) in our garden. We had an unusual Winter in that there was no snow just rain, plenty of water which led to an early Spring. This weather pattern appears to have confused all of the insects as they are all behaving quite differently to normal. We usually see the Red Mason Bee nest first, followed by the Blue Mason Bee and Leaf-cutter bee which usually build their nests in June. This year the Red Mason Bees arrived in late March. They were still squirrelling away at their nest sites, clearing out the chambers ready to lay this year’s eggs when they were met with the early arrival of both the Blue Mason Bees, and the slightly larger and perhaps a little more aggressive (at least when it comes to the arrangement of their nesting sites), Leaf-cutter bees. There are arguments breaking out constantly and I have never witnessed this pattern of behaviour before.
A new secret crusade trying to find enough laying space all in the same time frame and not over the several months which is the normal pattern of behaviour of these beautiful solitary bees.
Red Mason Bee Osmia rufa and a Blue Mason Bee Osmia caerulescens
A Red Mason Bee Osmia rufa chasing off a Blue Mason Bee Osmia caerulescens trying to prevent the use of a communal insect house in the holy grail quest of finding the perfect and safe place to lay this year’s eggs for the new brood.