After being holed up for about ten months, this Osmia lignaria male pushed the mud plug out of his paper straw and luxuriated in the sunshine. Within twenty minutes, he was out of the house and sipping at the Siberian squill in the back garden.
The males always emerge first and have distinctive behavior. They sip some nectar, then find a warm place to rest—usually on a rock or on the sunny side of the house. They repeat this process over and over, sipping and resting, sipping and resting. Sounds familiar, right?
Once the females begin to emerge, eating and mating replace eating and resting…at least that’s the way it appears. Like most male bees other than honey bees, the males can mate many times, usually in the flowers or on the ground.
Male Osmia lignaria are distinguished from the females by their dense “moustache” and long antennae. They are also smaller than their female counterparts. The females have large mandibles and carry pollen in an abdominal scopa. They are particularly good at pollinating orchard crops and are often referred to as “blue orchard bees.”