Total Pageviews

Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mason Bees,Resin bees and leafcutter bees

This is how some insects overwinter, protected from the winter elements and predators, until the following spring.  When you open  routered nesting tunnels or Beediverse Corn nesting trays, you may find all kinds of insects using the nesting tunnels.  

The top row consists of leaf cutter bee cocoons.  It is difficult to see the individual compartments each containing a cocoon.  Leaf pieces tend to overlap from one cell to another.  Different shades of green probably means that pieces were chewed off from different species of plants.  
The mid row contains  pupae of the resin bee.  Resin bees use tree resin as cell liners and dividers.  The bee larvae feeds during the summer months, until it grows into a pupae.  This little yellow 'grub' overwinters in this life stage form  until warm temperatures allow it to develop into an adult bees.

The 3rd and lowest nesting tunnel contains the mason bee or the spring mason bees Osmia lignaria.  It uses mud to make its compartments- save from predators and the weather.

All three insects are pollinators.  Leaf cutter bees and Resin bees generally pollinate during the summer months, whereas Mason bees pollinate in the early spring.

When opening nesting tunnels, I return the nesting trays to their housing with the resin bee pupae and leaf cutter bee cocoons intact.  I remove the mason bee cocoons, and process them.  Processing these cocoons means removing the mud and any mites that may be attached to them.
Photo by Mike N., North Vancouver, BC


  1. Great picture! Thanks for explaining each row. We have found both of these in our mason bee tubes and have wondered what they were. Now we know what to do with them!

  2. I'm trying to identify the various bee species I find in my tubes and nests. Do you know the species, or at least the genus name of the resin bees? In opening bee habitats this week I've found nearly as many resin nests as Osmia (and only one leafcutter so far).

    I do all the insect ID for the Marion County Oregon Master Gardeners in Salem, and I teach annual workshop classes on Mason Bees and other Beneficial Insects. I really want to know what these bees are.

    I use your Mason Bee book as a valued resource for information and "Bee Wash" instructions, and have done so ever since you autographed a copy for me when you did a presentation at our Mini-college in Corvallis several years ago.

    Carol Horning

  3. Great photo and description Mike,

    Looks like square cut home - 8mm? have you seen this variety using round holes as well?

    Am busy in Portland Oregon with a small business Livehoneybees promoting pollinators.

    Bee well!

  4. Meant to add / ask, pulling apart the box does not disturb those tender looking resin bees? They are rough little nuggets.

  5. Hi is there a way I can contact Mike N., North Vancouver, BC about using the photo?