Belongs to: solitary bees

Red mason bee Osmia rufa


Best time to see: late Mar to early Jun

Key facts

A solitary (i.e each female has its own nest) bee covered with gingery hairs, important as a pollinator of fruit trees

Widespread across England and lowland Scotland

Nest readily in artificial homes such as short lengths of cane or 6 mm to 10 mm holes drilled in blocks of wood

Recognition

Females are up to 16 mm long, covered with reddish-brown hairs

Males are smaller, with a tuft of white hairs on the front of the head

Lifecycle

Females build nests in spring in existing holes in wood or masonry, or in plant stems

They lays eggs in a series of cells lined with mud and separated by mud walls, providing pollen as food

Young eat the food during the summer, then spin a cocoon and pupate, over-wintering as adults to emerge in spring

  • Main photo

Photo © Peter Harvey