Beekeeping forum→Mason Bees vs. Leafcutter Bees

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Name: Annie Schreck
Fort Jones, CA (Zone 7b)
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schrecka
Jun 4, 2018 10:06 AM CST
Hi there, Bee Friends!
I've been doing a bit of research on native bees, hoping to get them going in 2019. I'm trying to decide between mason and leafcutter bees, and I would love to hear from someone with experience keeping either. I like that mason bees are active in the spring rather than summer, but it looks like leafcutters cost one fifth the price of mason bees. Any one know other pro and cons I should consider?

I'm also curious as to how I should start preparing my garden for them. My plan is to go the the native plant nursery in the fall and plant up some natives with staggered blooms through the spring or summer. And prepare a mud pit if I go for the mason bees.

Any insight helps--thanks a bunch!

Annie
Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Mindy03
Jun 4, 2018 4:18 PM CST

Moderator

Hi Annie Welcome to the beekeeping forum

I don't know anything about mason or leaf cutter bees so I will leave that for someone else to answer.


I also don't know about plants for either one either but I can suggest that you search for plants for mason bees or plants for leaf cutter bees and see what comes up. That is what I did when I first started researching plants for honey bees.
Name: Heath
sevierville TN (Zone 7a)
Composter Beekeeper Houseplants Region: Tennessee Bee Lover Frugal Gardener
Vermiculture Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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plantcollector
Jun 4, 2018 5:44 PM CST
I don't know anything about them either but i think you should take @Mindy03 advice. Find out what they eat and how they live. I wouldn't buy any because they will probably come from a different climate. You want bees from your area. Even 20 miles is to far do to micro climates. So find out what they eat and how they live and give your local bees a awesome home. Keep us posted.
Name: Annie Schreck
Fort Jones, CA (Zone 7b)
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schrecka
Jun 5, 2018 12:10 PM CST
Thank you both! I was planning on buying through the CrownBees program where you can get larva that come from your own region. But a 20 mile radius is pretty darn specific. Okay, I'll focus on planting up a bountiful habitat.

Thanks!
Name: Heath
sevierville TN (Zone 7a)
Composter Beekeeper Houseplants Region: Tennessee Bee Lover Frugal Gardener
Vermiculture Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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plantcollector
Jun 5, 2018 4:28 PM CST
You know the old saying. If you build it they will come.
Name: Frank Mosher
Nova Scotia, Canada (Zone 6a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds Roses Clematis Lilies Peonies
Region: Canadian Photo Contest Winner: 2017 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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fwmosher
Jun 5, 2018 5:39 PM CST
Annie: I am having a problem with the choice options? Mason bees are the sweethearts of the gardening world because they are small, unobtrusive, and as you said, early Spring bees before the "honey" bees surface from overwintering under the soil. Leafcutter bees are by definition, leafcutters, and can really do a job on a lot of ornamental plants, including roses. What do you want either for? Cheers!
Name: Annie Schreck
Fort Jones, CA (Zone 7b)
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schrecka
Jun 6, 2018 7:57 AM CST
Valid point, Frank. I'm in it for the native insect pollination and the joy of stewarding bees.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Bee Lover Butterflies Birds I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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Weedwhacker
Apr 21, 2021 4:52 PM CST
I kind of stumbled onto this thread and became interested enough to do some research on the native mason bees and leafcutter bees (and in fact have now ordered a kit for the leafcutters...)

Frank, I don't believe that honeybees overwinter underground? as far as I know they spend the winter in their hives, whether those hives are manmade or of their own making in a tree or whatever (in warm enough climates). Bumblebees, and no doubt other types, do spend the winter underground, however.

As to the mason bees vs leafcutter bees - my understanding at this point is that the mason bees are more suited to an area with fruit trees that are blooming in the early spring, while the leafcutters are more suited to summer-flowering vegetable crops like cucumbers, squash and so on. They DO use plant leaves to make plugs for the tube structures where they deposit their eggs, whereas mason bees use clay or mud. So, that might well be an issue for someone growing ornamentals and not wanting the leaves to be damaged - in my case, I'm growing veggies and ornamentals, including native plants, but I don't really care if the leaves have some holes so I think the leafcutters are the ones that will work best for me.

Annie, I have to thank you for asking the original question - I've been debating for a couple of years about getting a couple of bee hives; years ago my ex and I had 10 hives and I thoroughly enjoyed that experience - but I'm a lot older now and after giving it a lot of thought have decided there are more cons than pros to going that route at this point. Giving a home to some of the native bees seems like a great compromise, since my main objective is to increase the number of pollinators in our area. Smiling
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
C/F temp conversion
AZ
Cam900
Apr 29, 2021 9:42 PM CST
We have leaf cutter bees. They make circular cuts in leaves. They are particularly fond of our roses at my home.
Thumb of 2021-04-30/Cam900/13685b

AZ
Cam900
Apr 29, 2021 9:46 PM CST
The leaf cutters bees came unbidden to our house. They can be quite destructive to plants. They do not sting though and they do not act particularly aggressive if left alone.

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