Making Mud for Mason Bees

Mason Bees use clay or mud to seal off their nesting tubes and protect the hibernating bees.

“It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season.” — Kate Morton

There’s a reason Mason Bees have “Mason” in their name. While laying the bees for next season, females seal off each nesting tube with clay or mud to protect the hibernating bees from predators, until they emerge to pollinate the following spring.

Mason Bees are one of our native species and are found throughout the United States. Attract these gentle pollinators to your yard or garden, no matter your climate. Since this species is so common, there’s a chance they already live in your area. All they need is a push in the right direction, so provide the “right habitat” in your yard. Even if you live in a dry, arid zone, it’s possible to attract Mason Bees.

Here are the three essentials you need to attract Mason Bees: shelter, food and a clay or mud source. These efficient pollinators must have these three things nearby to stay in the area and pollinate. The clay or mud is especially important, as it allows this species to hibernate properly and protect themselves from predators. 

“If mason bees can’t find clayey mud nearby their bee house,” according to Crown Bees: The Native Bee Experts, “they simply won’t nest and will fly away to find another site.” Of course, the easiest way to provide mud for your Mason Bees is by offering naturally occurring clay or mud.

Making Mud for Mason Bees

Use a shovel or a trowel to dig a vertical hole in the ground, located within 25 feet of your Mason Bee house. “Look for a texture that sticks together when wet and pinched, like dough or clay. If you found clayey mud,” said Crown Bees, “just remember to add some water during dry periods while the mason bees are nesting [in the spring and early summer].” This allows the Mason Bees to choose the type of clay or mud they prefer for nesting.

Crown Bees: The Native Bee Experts also shared the following “mud making” tip.

Pro Tip: Do not put the mud or wet dirt into a bowl. The mud will either dry out quickly or remain too wet in the bowl. A vertical hole in the ground will connect the mud to water underground and the bee can find the right kind of mud throughout the day.

To read other quick tips about providing mud for our gentle and native Mason Bees, visit the article “Making Mud for Mason Bees” on the Crown Bees: The Native Bee Experts website.

 

SOURCES AND INTERESTING LINKS:

“Frequently Asked Questions,” Crown Bees: The Native Bee Experts. 2018. Aug. 10, 2018. <https://crownbees.com/faq>.

“Making Mud for Mason Bees,” Sandlin, Demarus. Crown Bees: The Native Bee Experts. Mar. 1, 2018. Aug. 10, 2018. <https://crownbees.com/blog/makingmud>.



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