Plants to support Mason Bees

Asked February 17, 2020, 12:27 PM EST

I'm looking to start a mason bee colony, but I don't have fruit trees in my yard to support them. Do mason bees like any not fruit trees/plants/shrubs?

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

Getting a mason bee colony going is a rewarding project. Anything we can do to aid pollinators helps our environment.

Mason bees are a group of bees that are solitary, (vs honeybees that live in large colonies). Mason bees build chambered nests in small crevices or holes. Since they cannot create the holes we must provide them in the form of nest boxes. Mason bees will pollinate 95% of the flowers they visit. They are active only from March through May or mid June. To provide flowers for them think spring flowers. Mason bees are great for fruit because they are active when fruit trees are blooming. However, they also like many other spring flowers, especially native plants like Oregon grape, also asters, poppies, Echinacia, berries, clover even dandelions. Mason bees only travel 200-300 feet from their nests, so put your next box close to the flowers .

There are many solitary insects that act as pollinators at different times of the year. Any flowers you plant will be welcomed by them.

This article from OSU has comprehensive information on keeping mason bees, Nurturing Mason Bees in your Backyard in Western Oregon

https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/em9130.pdf