More than 150 species make up a group of native bees called mason bees, which handled pollination here long before European honeybees arrived.
“Solitary bees such as mason bees are perfectly adapted for great pollination,” says Matthew Shepherd, director of outreach and education for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
Unlike honeybees that gather pollen in packages on their hind legs, mason bees belly-flop into blossoms, and the pollen clings to the hairs on their bodies. As a result, they can pollinate up to 2,000 flowers per day, according to Thyra McKelvie of Rent Mason Bees in Bothell, Washington. She also notes that each mason bee can do the work of 100 honeybees. And because they're well-adapted to the climate, they fly in cooler temperatures and brave drizzly conditions.
The busy fliers are valuable in home gardens because they pollinate an array of early-blooming plants. Plus, they're easy to raise and fun to watch.
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