Last week, one of our local pest control operators came in with a sample of dead bees. The bees were found in a gap around a window and a small hole. The homeowner was concerned they were a wood-destroying insect. Not to worry…
I took a photo and sent the image to Jim Kalisch, UNL Entomology. Jim gave us more information:
“These are Orchard-Mason Bees, specifically the Blue Orchard Bee, Osmia lignaria. If the specimens have yellowish hair on the faces, they are males. Males usually emerge before the females so that they can compete to mate with them. We have had blue orchard bees in Nebraska for perhaps 5 years. They are becoming more and more common due to people purchasing them and using them to pollinate their orchards and gardens. They are artificially raised in cardboard tubes much like leafcutter bees and tubes can be purchased from suppliers in the northwestern US. They emerge much earlier than leafcutter bees, and have the benefit of helping to pollinate fruit orchards.”
Thanks Jim! No need for the homeowner to use any controls for these wayward bees. She can caulk the openings around the window and that will solve the issue.
Washington State Extension describes these bees as “The orchard mason bee (Osmia lignaria) is a gentle beneficial insect that has potential as a pollinator of apples, cherries, and other tree fruits. It is found throughout most of North America, particularly in wooded areas but often around homes in towns and cities.”
So although these bees aren’t native to our area, you may still find them in bee nest boxes and other suitable locations.
Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!
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