Fun Red Mason Bee Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Feb 09, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Nov 22, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Red mason bee facts are extremely captivating for everyone to read.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.3 Min

The commonest and the largest mason bees' species of Osmia that are found in England is the red mason bee. The name 'mason' is indicative of the bee species that use masonry products like mud for building nests. Initially, the male and female counterparts were thought of as two distinct bee species, and different scientific names were assigned to them; Apis bicornis and Apis rufa for females and males, respectively. Later on, it was discovered that they belonged to the same species and were named Osmia rufa. However, Osmia bicornis is the current scientific name of this bee species.

These bees are distributed across several countries in the European continent as well as in North Africa, Georgia, Turkey, and Iran. For nesting purposes, this solitary bee avoids excavating nest cells and searches for preexisting natural cavities or holes and even artificial bee hotels. They have a herbivorous diet that includes nectar and pollen. The mating season of this species falls in the spring season every year after which the females lay up to 40 eggs inside a cell with a mud line for protection. The mason bees are known to sting only when provoked. If you want excellent pollination of trees and plants in your garden, setting up a bee house would prove to be a great success!

Keep reading to learn much more extraordinary facts about the red mason bees! Check out whirlgig beetle or the black blister beetle to learn more about them.

Red Mason Bee Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a red mason bee?

The red mason bee is a species of mason bees, classified under the genus Osmia. Osmia bicornis bicornis, O. b. cornigera, and O. b. fractinoris are the three subspecies of Osmia bicornis.

What class of animal does a red mason bee belong to?

Red mason bees are members of the family Megachilidae and belong to the class of Insecta, similar to a dragonfly.

How many red mason bees are there in the world?

The population of these solitary bees is pretty abundant within their geographical range. However, no concrete number has been assigned to indicate the population size of this bee species around the world.

Where does a red mason bee live?

The population of red masons is plentiful in several countries namely England, north and south of Scotland, Wales, Ireland, mainland Europe, Norway, as well as in North Africa, Georgia, Turkey, and Iran.

What is a red mason bees’ habitat?

This bee species mainly nests in urban settlements. They avoid excavating nests and search for preexisting cavities and holes on hollow plant stems and fence posts made of wood, garden canes, inside the cracks on mortar jars, and artificial bee hotels for nesting.

Who does red mason bee live with?

A red mason bee is a solitary bee. The female solitary bees are seen performing the roles of the queen as well as the worker by themselves.

How long does a red mason bee live?

The red mason bee life cycle is short-lived. On average, a female red mason bee can live up to 10-12 weeks, while the male dies right after mating.

How do they reproduce?

The mating season of these bees falls in the spring season between March and April. Females are monogamous and get the upper hand to select the male that they want to mate with. They select males that are more closely related to their kin, that is, males belonging to the same population. After mating, the male dies and then the female seeks nests inside preexisting holes and crevices that look like tubes such as hollow plant stems, cracked mortar jars, garden canes, fence posts made of wood, beetle holes, and even artificial bee hotels that serve as cells for them to lay the eggs. A series of cells is prepared inside the hollow tubes with a mud line to separate and protect them with each cell consisting of one egg in it. The male eggs are laid in front of the tube while the female ones are at the back. Each cell consisting of an egg is provided with pollen-rich in protein and nectar as the growth of larva depends on the food that the egg receives. By the month of June, the larvae emerge from the tube and start developing and spinning cocoons around themselves. The adult bees develop by autumn and go on to hibernate inside the cocoons throughout winter. As the warmer climate arrives in March, the mature bees emerge from the cocoons to perform mating and other activities. They die with the onset of winter.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of red masons has not been evaluated by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature or IUCN. However, these bees are found in abundance within their geographical range and are the most commonly found species of genus Osmia.

Red Mason Bee Fun Facts

What does the red mason bee look like?

The red mason females are larger in size than their male counterparts, hence showing sexual dimorphism. Females have brown-colored thorax and orange-red abdomen with two horns on either side of the head. Males have long, sharp antennas with light facial hair.

Facts about the characteristics of red-mason bees.

How cute are they?

These bees are extremely small in size and harmless. The solid, vibrant colors enhance their appearance, making them look extremely captivating.

How do they communicate?

'Osmia' stands for 'odor'. The Osmia genus is known to produce a unique scent or pheromones which they use as a means of communication. They also produce buzzing and humming sounds while copulating.

How big is a red mason bee?

The length of male and female counterparts of red masons are 0.3-0.4 in (0.7-1 cm) and 0.4-0.47 in (1-1.1 cm), respectively. They are the largest among the other species of bees belonging to the genus Osmia, but are much smaller than water beetles that measure 1.5 in (3.8 cm).

How fast can a red mason bee fly?

The accurate speed limit of a red mason bee is unknown. However, bees, in general, can achieve a flight speed of 15 mph (24.1 kph).

How much does a red mason bee weigh?

The average weight of a red mason bee is 0.035 oz (1 g). They fall within the weight range of other bees, that is, 0.035-0.10 oz (1-2.8 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female names of this species are drone and queen, respectively.

What would you call a baby red mason bee?

A baby red mason bee is known as a larva.

What do they eat?

A red mason bee indulges in a herbivorous diet that includes nectar and pollen of various trees and plants, like the sweet bee. Some of their preferred flower species are Ranunculus acris, R. bulbosus, R repens, and Quercus robur. The maple and oak trees provide the females with nectar and pollen which is fed to the larvae.

Are they dangerous?

Being absolutely non-aggressive, a red mason bee will only sting when provoked. The red mason bee sting is painless as it has fewer barbs that release venom than that of a honeybee. This is the reason why the venom of a honeybee feels more severe on human skin. However, their nests can cause damage to houses.

Would they make a good pet?

A red mason bee is a solitary insect and is an extremely good pollinator. As they are non-aggressive, it is also safe for children to be around them. Although it is difficult to pet bees or wasps, red mason bees can be brought into your garden if you can provide them with a bee house. This will result in excellent pollination of trees and plants in your garden.

Did you know...

The male mason bees, including red masons, are the first bees to emerge in the spring season.

Since the body size and age of females indicate the sex of the offspring, they are caressed better than the males. Large-sized females can carry more pollens and produce more female offspring than smaller ones.

What is the difference between a mason bee and a honey bee?

Unlike honeybees, mason bees are excellent pollinators. They account for 95% of pollination whereas honeybees for only 5%. This is mainly because mason bees do not demonstrate the kind of finesse that honeybees do while gathering pollen. Mason bees land on flowers in a rather messy fashion whereby pollen gets stuck all over their bodies. This helps in redistributing pollen to other flowers for fertilization. Honeybees on the other hand gather pollen in an organized manner. Again, a red mason bee is solitary in nature and performs all the activities by itself. On the contrary, a complex relationship persists between the members of a honey bee colony. Unlike honeybees, red mason bees do not prepare honey. This is because they die with the onset of winter and do not need to store food for the hibernation period.

What flowers do red mason bees like?

The growth of the larvae depends upon the pollen that they feed on. A red mason bee prefers collecting pollen from flower species such as Ranunculus acris, R. bulbosus, R repens, and Quercus robur. The maple and oak trees provide the females with nectar and pollen.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these water beetle facts and stag beetle facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable hide beetle coloring pages.

Second image by HAZET.

Red Mason Bee Facts

What Did They Prey On?

N/A

What Type of Animal were they?

Herbivores

Average Litter Size?

40 eggs

How Much Did They Weigh?

0.035 oz (1 g)

What habitat Do they Live In?

grasslands, heathland, moorlands, farmlands, towns, gardens

Where Do They Live?

england, Northern Scotland, wales, Ireland, sweden, norway, mainland europe, North Africa, Georgia, turkey, iran, Southern Scotland

How Long Were They?

Male: 0.3-0.4 in (0.7-1 cm) Female: 0.4-0.47 in (1-1.1 cm)

How Tall Were They?

N/A

Class

Insecta

Genus

Osmia

Family

Megachilidae

Scientific Name

Osmia bicornis

What Do They Look Like?

Red, black, yellow, brown

Skin Type

Hair

What Are Their Main Threats?

N/A

What is their Conservation Status?

Not Evaluated
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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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