Did you know that not all bees live in hives like honey bees? In fact of all the bee species, over 90% are solitary bees. Even though they aren't as famous honey bees or bumble bees, solitary bees are vital pollinators.
Solitary bees are not just bees who have left the hive and are now living the single life. Unlike the honey bee, every female solitary bee lays eggs and raises offspring on her own, without the support of workers or drones. Some species of solitary bees do live in a type of social group, with bees building separate nests close to each other.
There are over 200 species of solitary bee. They are non-aggressive and rarely sting. This makes them perfect pollinators that you can invite to make a home in your garden. You can even make a home for them - a simple bundle of hollow canes and twigs securely bundled together should do the trick. If you’d prefer, there are many pre-made bee homes available to purchase.
One type of solitary bee often found in our area is the mason bee. Mason bees are remarkable pollinators – just 250-300 females can pollinate an entire acre. During the early spring months, you can attract mason bees by providing nesting tunnels, plenty of bee food in the form of fruit trees, berries, flowers and vegetables, and a mud source. Mason bee houses can be bought or made from wood, thick paper straws, or hollow reeds. One of our Girl Scout volunteers, Carissa Poore, even built us a mason bee home to have on the park grounds for her Gold Award.
If you’re looking to learn more about mason bees, check out www.crownbees.com. There you can sign up for Bee Mail, and they’ll send you a monthly reminder with timely information about caring for your mason bees. Charlotte's Quest Members are invited to our June First Friday Fire which will be all about bees, and includes an evening hike, campfire and s’mores! As a member, you join a community supporting a thriving, natural environment in Northern Carroll County. Not a member? No problem! You can join on our website here: https://www.charlottesquest.org/plans-pricing