Where are the (mason) bees?

Asked June 7, 2020, 7:48 PM EDT

This is the first year my lavender has no mason bees. I've seen maybe one or two tiny ones and a couple of bumble bees. I live on Witham Drive, and don't know of pesticides being sprayed in my area, though of course they could be. Are others complaining of no bees in Corvallis? Even when I walk in natural areas here I see very few bees on the Scotch broom and other flowers.

Benton County Oregon

1 Response

Thanks for watching out for the bees!

I am also in Corvallis and can report a little bit on what is going on with our bees. There are many species of mason bee, but the primary species that people recognize has been waning for a few weeks now. Most bumble bees I have seen are transitioning on to their workers - so the bumbleb look a lot smaller then they did a couple weeks ago. You should also see a lot of small carpenter bees as well as our sweat bees; both have been picking up a lot and can readily seen on blackberries. finally there is a transition point that we're just about to go through, when we start to see our summer bee fauna come on.

So why might the bees be not as dense as it they have been in previous years? Bee populations can cycle around. They are wild animals, and as such, they can do well in one year and not in another. My personal experience in Corvallis is that this is pretty typical year, but it has been cool at times, and bees really will not fly very well below 55 F. we are interested in how bees are doing in the state and for that reason we've developed a very extensive census of the bees of the state, the Oregon Bee Atlas, that is designed to see trends in bee populations. Hopefully in the next few years we'll have some clear pictures of how our bee fauna is doing across the state.