Yesterday I got my first sting of the season. That would not be remarkable except for one detail: the culprit was a mason bee. A mason bee! I have never before been stung by such a creature.

Ive been keeping mason bees for about seven years, and during early spring the area around my patio is black with them. With all the carrying on they do, you wouldnt even notice I have honey bees. Honey bees are always on a distant mission and they fly up and out. I only ever see them at the hive entrance. Mason bees, on the other hand, have an abbreviated foraging distance and do most of their work within several yards of their birthplace.

Not only are there lots of them in a small area, but they are quite chummy. By that, I mean they have no issues about being close to humans, very close, and they will often investigate your nose and ears as potential nesting sites. Talk about irritating.

Several species of mason bee live in my area and appear at different times of the year. The ones active now are the so-called orchard masons, Osmia lignaria. They appear about the same time as the orchard tree blossoms in the northern states and are quite content to pollinate them. But they are generalists and can also be seen on all types of flowers, including dandelions and flowering shrubs.



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