a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Mason bees


Bad photograph of male Osmia cornuta

Bad photograph of male Osmia cornuta

This afternoon I saw more than Mason bee circling around the Mason bee house.  The nests have hatched – I thought, and rushed to check which ones had opened.

I was quite surprised to see them intact and at first puzzled.

However, I could see the little white heads so I knew that they were males.

Another bad photograph of the male

Another bad photograph of the male

The photographs are poor as the box is in the shade in poor light.  However, I could plainly see their white tufts.  They not only landed on the nest but they explored inside the tubes.

I was pleased to see these males arrive as I had always assumed the hatching females were to mate with their brothers who hatched earlier.  It seemed to go against the principle of shuffling the gene pool in sexual reproduction.   Apparently the males can be more promiscuous and will travel in search of females rather than waiting where they have hatched.

I still have to wait to see if my nests will hatch.

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

10 thoughts on “Mason bees

  1. Are you worried about pollination? Are bees scarce?


    • I’m not at all worried about pollination. I love to watch the bees and find out about how they live. I was interested that the males were able to find a place where either females had been or were going to appear. Perhaps the house has a distinctive smell for them. They circled the house during the afternoon, whereas, they were not noticeable elsewhere in the garden. I see a lot of bees in the summer but they are not all honey bees and I am trying to find out what type of bees can be found in my area.


  2. My European Orchard Bees Osmia cornuta males have hatched. They appear to stake out the unhatched holes. My guess is that they can smell the females who will hatch in a few days.

    Have you been sent anything regarding the campaign to influence the CAP reform voting in favour of wildlife friendly farming? If not, go to https://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1726&ea.campaign.id=19228&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Butterfly+Conservation&utm_campaign=2235647_CAP+Reform+Petition&utm_content=EmailMEP&dm_i=DGT,1BX1B,6GY7FT,4IAWJ,1

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    • There must be some odour involved. It could be the odour emanating from the females about to hatch or odours still impregnating the wood from earlier years, I suspect the former.
      Thanks for the link the BBCons.Soc had contacted me but I was not sure what to do about it here.


  3. Very exciting, I look forward to more news on the mason bees!


  4. Nature usually has a way of making sure the gene pool is mixed well. It is so interesting to see what is happening with your nests. Christina


  5. Pingback: Mason Bees, and other insects that make holes in houses in Poitou-Charentes. | Poitoucharentesinphotos

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