a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Short Mason Bee Update


Mason Bee  Osmia cornuta

The male Mason bees (Osmia cornuta) have not given up on checking out the Mason bee house.

Male Osmia cornuta

I’m not sure whether they are concerned that the females are playing hide and seek but they give the whole area a thorough check.

Male Mason bee, Osmia cornuta

If they think I am watching they play cool and pretend they are only resting on the box to give their antennae a groom.

Osmia cornuta on hyacinth

After a bit they give up and drop down for a bit of nectar from the hyacinths that are conveniently situated under the bee house.

Osmia cornuta on hyacinth

They may have to wait a long time because last year it was the beginning of April before The previous year’s bees hatched.

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.

30 thoughts on “Short Mason Bee Update

  1. Your mason bees seem to be Osmia cornuta, not O. rufa. O. cornuta is much more brightly coloured — very black and very foxy red. O. rufa is like a scruffy toned down or worn version of O. cornuta, less neatly velvety, paler hair on both abdomen and thorax.


  2. April isn’t too long of a wait – unless you’re waiting for love 🙂


  3. It is fascinating that the males are around so long before the females. Do you think it is nature’s test; to ensure that only males that have been good a finding nectar to keep alive will be able to reproduce? Christina


  4. It’s nice to see the bees and the hyacinths, which are one of my favorites.


  5. Great pix, Amelia…
    Old camera or new?


  6. Thanks for providing an answer to a mystery from yesterday – I was watching some black and ginger bees checking out an old, crumbly wall. They were darting around really quickly, sometimes entering a crack or hole but never lingering – it was hard enough to get a proper look at them, let alone capture a decent image. I’ll keep my eye on that wall to see if any have decided to move in.

    I can now add Mason Bees to the growing list of ‘bees that are in the garden, which I previously didn’t even know existed’. Thanks.


    • You’ll have to check out which type of Mason bees you have, I got my species wrong first time. They are really pretty looking bees. Just to confuse you I had some red tailed bumble bees nesting in a hole in my house wall last year but I haven’t seen any red tailed bumble bees yet this year.
      Next you can see if you have some strange piles of earth on the ground like tiny molehills – you might have mining bees too!


  7. I expect mason bees in the next couple of weeks…Love the photos.


  8. Hi Amelia
    As a bee-lover, have you looked at the macro photos by Mark Berkery? I thought of you today when I looked at his photos of a Leaf-cutter Bee at http://beingmark.com/2013/03/25/adventures-after-dark/


  9. Very nice photos, have you got a macro lens now.


  10. Pingback: Mason bee hotels or houses | a french garden

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