French entomologist Fabre (1823-1915) believed that wild mason bees of Osmia genus (Cornutus) are the best pollinators: they work at lower temperatures, even in the light rain, the flight speed is several times higher than the speed of domestic bees, but not more than the distance of 100-150 m.
To attract them you need to cut in the spring cane tube with the length of 25-30 cm (10”) and a diameter of 7-8 mm (0.3”), and place them in straight polyethylene bottles by 45-50 pcs. (See photo). As it turned out, for these purposes you can use plastic bottles of 0.5-1.5 liters. The bottles have to be put under the shelter (see next photo). In the spring the packages you put under the shelter (wooden box) and left it. In mid-April, Osmia will begin to settle there (next photo).
The output from the cocoons starts in the second half of April. In a well-protected area, under direct sunlight the output is possible before. The males hatch first. If the sun is shining brightly, they fly around the shelter, as if in order to better familiarize with the place. Then sit on the cover, and exchange jealous jerks, come into fights with each other. Then shake the wings, fly away, fly to the open flowers, eat, then return to the nest. Persistently flying from one to the other cane, they put the head in the holes to see if any female decides to leave the nest.
And here’s the one, all in the dust and the “mess dress” – it is a consequence of the release of the cocoon, and she starts to smooth wings. Males fly to her. The first one hugs her, others climb on him and on each other to form a column. And one of them, which has occupied the base of column, gives others the time to admit the defeat and flies away.
Males differ from females by smaller and white forehead, resembling Napoleon cocked hat. Term of mating of mason bees is short (3-5 days). Males do their work and disappear and females, which are more and more, begin to work. Taking a straw, she carefully cleans it, and stores its position and starts to build a nest. We have to help her with that, as they use wet ground. You can use water-filled bowl, around which is always messy. It builds a nest and makes food supply for the offspring, lays an egg, attaching it to the feed mixture, and seals the entrance with wet soil. All. Work is done. All forces have left on procreation. Bee dies.
Their life is very short. They disappear until next spring.
What to do?
Now, when we briefly told you about the mason bees and you know their benefits, let us tell what we have to do to attract them:
– see if there are reeds around the site;
– when cane ripens in the fall, cut and store it in a dry place;
– cut cane into pieces with the length of 25-30 cm (10-12”) with a knot in the middle and a diameter of 7-8 mm (0.3”), put in plastic bottles by 45-50 pcs. So you get nests for 45-100 bees;
– in the spring, as soon as it is warm, place nests under any (not iron) well warmed by sun shelters;
– set the bowl of water next to it. There is must always be damp.