Hello. My question pertains to native solitary bees. Last year in my garden,...

Asked January 28, 2019, 1:57 PM EST

Hello. My question pertains to native solitary bees. Last year in my garden, I placed a solitary bee house with Osmia Lignaria Blue Orchard Mason bees in the spring and Leaf Cutter bees in the summer. Is the Osmia California Mason bee suitable for Warren County, Ohio. Also, are there other species of native bees that are suitable for Ohio and/or certain species I should avoid/not introduce into Ohio? Thank you.

Warren County Ohio

3 Responses

Hello! I checked with some experts about Osmia californica, and was not able to find observations in Ohio. Because we have had issues with loss of Osmia species due to other species expanding their ranges, I would not suggest trying to use a non-Ohio species for pollination. Is this for commercial pollination, for fun or for both? I can respond depending on your goals.

Thank You for your response. I became interested in solitary native bees when my home garden did not produce fruit as expected. I had beautiful squash plants that flowered but failed to fruit. I had suspected that the lack of pollinators was part of the cause. I investigated and found that I could help the bees and my garden without the trouble of keeping honey bees. So, I started a solitary bee house with Osmia lignaria bees. The next season, my garden produced well, but ants had invaded my bee house, and I am now looking to replenish my bee population. I have found suppliers online that offer the O. californica at a cheaper price than the O. lignaria, but I do not want to introduce a species not native to Ohio.

I am actually a bigger fan of creating habitat to draw in the bees already in your region. Statewide, we have about 450 species of bee, so there is tremendous potential for a diversity of bees to visit your landscape. By adding more pollen- and nectar-rich plants, you will draw pollinators to your yard (who will then visit your squash flowers). Excellent choices include milkweed, bee balm, coneflowers, and mountainmint. To provide nesting habitat, consider a brush pile, leaving some firewood to age, and cutting perennial stems off at knee height (bees will nest in the hollow centers without damaging the plants). These steps can create a sustainable habitat that will continue to provide food and nesting habitat for bees over time.