Masonry Bees – The Red Mason Bee in Manchester

Most of us won’t be aware of Manchester masonry (or mortar) bees – as they are very similar looking to honey bees – albeit a bit smaller.

Unlike honeybees, Manchester masonry bees are not social and do not nest in colonies making typical bees nests.  Instead they use small holes in stonework – hence the term masonry – as their home, one bee per hole!  They do also use timber structures, holes in the ground and even hollow twigs too, preferring to use pre-existing holes: for example those made by other insects or irregularities in the structure.

These bees do not generally sting, although the female can, but this is rare and the person would need to make very direct contact with the stinger for it to happen.

Although they feed on nectar and pollen these bees do not make beeswax or honey but are still very important for our eco-system and pollination.  In fact, red mason bees have been used in trials in cherry and apple orchards and the results show a marked improvement in the fruit.


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