Animal lovers have a lot in common. It’s the cat’s blanket or the dog’s rug, so don’t touch it! The same goes for bee lovers. In this case, the mason bees requisitioned a garbage can for their personal use. And the former owner of the garbage can, Anna Poladian-Prior of Eldersburg, Maryland, issued a similar edict: Don’t move it!
The garbage can is actually one of those large plastic types with wheels that Anna uses for firewood. But the wheels contain small cavities that the local mason bees have taken a fancy to.
The pictures were taken on April 11, the same week I heard two other reports of mason bees overtaking the state of Maryland. Anna described the scene:
I’ve seen tons (I do mean a lot!) of native bees that look like these on the redbuds and their abdomens are clearly dusted with pollen—the tree looks like a moving cloud has descended upon it.
I have a homemade bee house with straws in a metal can set out for them, but this wheel is what they have used. Actually they use both wheels.
I see them approaching the wheels but I can’t get a good picture of them as they seem quite determined to get to the nest site. Another was exploring areas under the deck but wouldn’t settle down for her moment in the spotlight. Oh well.
I suspect these same bees used the folds in a pile of tarp a couple of years ago to build their homes. I felt awful when I decided to fold it up and out came all these pollen pellets. They also used the crease in a folded bag of peat moss.
With a little help from an entomologist friend, I learned that the bee shown here is either Osmia cornifrons or Osmia taurus. Apparently, the two species are hard to tell apart from a photograph.
Osmia cornifrons, also known as the horn-faced bee, was deliberately introduced into the US from Japan where it is used to pollinate apples. Osmia taurus, originally from East Asia, mysteriously appeared at about the same time. First seen in Maryland, Osmia taurus has since spread throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Both are excellent pollinators of early flowering trees. Like all Osmia bees, they are solitary cavity dwellers that carry pollen loads on their abdomens.
I love the pictures, Anna. Some of the best garbage can photos I’ve ever seen!
Honey Bee Suite