Red Mason Bee

©Penny Frith

Red Mason Bee

Scientific name: Osmia rufa
The Red Mason Bee is a common, gingery bee that can be spotted nesting in the crumbling mortar of old walls. Encourage bees to nest in your garden by putting out a tin can full of short, hollow canes.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 0.6-1.1cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

March to June

About

The Red Mason Bee is a small, common bee that nests in hollow plant stems, in holes in cliffs, and in the crumbling mortar of old buildings. It is a solitary bee so, after mating, each female builds its own nest; she lines each 'cell' with mud and pollen and lays a single egg in each until the cavity is full. The larvae hatch and develop, pupating in autumn and hibernating over winter. The Red Mason Bee is on the wing from late March, and feeds solely on pollen and nectar.

How to identify

The Red Mason Bee is covered in dense gingery hair; the males are smaller than the females and sport a white tuft of hair on the face. There are many similar species of masonry bee that can be difficult to identify.

Distribution

Widespread in England and Wales, but rarer in Scotland.

Did you know?

You can provide a home in your garden for solitary bees by putting some dry grass in an upturned flowerpot and partly burying it. Alternatively, you can make an insect home by filling an old tin can with short lengths of cane, placing them vertically inside the can so that their hollow insides are visible.

How people can help

Although they might not look especially wildlife-friendly, our roadside verges, railway cuttings and waste grounds can provide valuable habitats for all kinds of plants and animals. The Wildlife Trusts are involved in many projects to make these places as beneficial for wildlife as possible. We have a vision of a Living Landscape: a network of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.