Sighted April 12, 2018, San Juan Island, WA. Blue Orchard Mason Bee (Osmia lignaria). These are important early (native) pollinators. Adults hibernate overwinter and emerge from March to May. Blue Orchard Mason Bees are being managed as orchard pollinators as they are excellent at pollinating fruit trees such as pear, cherry, plum, and apple, as well as quince and others, including blueberries. Blue Orchard Mason Bees and other solitary bees in the genus Megachilidae (like leaf-cutting bees) carry pollen on their bellies instead of special baskets on their hind legs like honey bees. The Blue Orchard Mason Bee use tubular cavities for nests, partitioning each brood cell with a wall of mud. Although similar in size, Blue Orchard bees are easy to distinguish from honey bees because they are metallic in coloring, often dark blue or blue-black.
Family: Megachilidae, Genus: Osmia (Mason bee)Osmia ligaria – Blue Orchard Bee
Family: Megachilidae, Genus: Osmia (Mason bee)
Osmia spp. (Osmia lignaria) mating ~ April 15, 2017
Read more about Blue Orchard Mason Bees (Osmia lignaria) here:
A very hungry bumble bee
I found out on my walk.
I invited her to dine with me,
And though she couldn’t talk…
She came along without protest
Happy to have me serve…
The wildflower blossom I picked for her,
Six-petaled bee hors d’oerve.
Once in the house, I seated her
As my honored guest,
Then I served her with a bee size drink…
My vintage nectar best!
A little sugar mixed
With water all together
And the happy bee was well revived
To survive this cold, spring weather.
She buzzed about and thanked me
For the sustenance,
And then she asked to be excused
With her little bumble dance.
I opened up my front door
To see her on her way
She said to look for her again
Some sunny summer day!
Bombus mixtus or Mixed Bumble Bee queens emerge after overwintering to begin the process of making a nest (typically in the ground) where she will begin to make wax pots to lay her eggs in. You can help save these important pollinators by reducing use of herbicides and lawn chemicals in your yard. If you find one on a cold day, help it out by providing a boost of carbohydrate energy. You can wet a sponge or cotton with sugar water or prepackaged hummingbird food and offer it a drink. The hungry bee will thank you for it. Remember to “bee” nice to bees!
***Text and photographs copyright 2012 by Cynthia Brast. No part of this story may be reproduced in any form without the expressed written consent of the author.