Just a quick May update from me. You might remember last year, I was very happy to find wild Red Mason Bees using my solitary bee box, I was amazed that there were around 8 bees using it, I think I said ‘the most I’ve ever seen…’ Well, scratch that! This year I’ve counted over 30 bees, and I’ve even had to make and buy additional boxes for them! It’s really interesting to observe their whole lifecycle. In early May I discovered the much smaller males had hatched out, and were hanging around waiting for the females to emerge. When they did, it was incredible to watch the males pounce on the females, fighting with each other to grab her, and hold on to her to stop her getting away. Others tried to push the successful male off, but finally one suitor remained. He stayed with the female, until she was ready to mate, and so begin the whole cycle again.

Red Mason Bees, Osmia rufa, pair on edge of flowerpot, garden, Norfolk

 

Red Mason Bees, Osmia rufa, pair on edge of flowerpot, garden, Norfolk

Once the females had mated, they began clearing out the old nesting tubes, removing the debris and last years empty cocoons. I found one of these in a plant pot, a tiny bronze capsule, really interesting to find.

 

Red Mason Bee, Osmia rufa, empty cocoon, garden, Norfolk

 

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