Osmia lignaria

Found: glittery native bee and friends at Willowbrook Reach.

Osmia lignaria

I think this is an Osmia lignaria which is a common kind of mason bee. Some people call them orchard bees. I saw quite a few of them buzzing around the last of the redbuds still in bloom. When a mason bee is ready to lay her eggs she looks for a hollow reed or hole in a tree. She will lay an egg and then build a tiny wall from clay or mud so that the egg sits safely in a little cell. Mind image: The Cask of Amontillado.

These bees only fly around in early spring for about about one month and then they will die. Any eggs laid now will take a year to fully develop.

bee hotel

You can encourage their presence by building bee hotels. I love this elaborate version but bees don’t mind simpler accommodations.

Orchard bees are a bright blue or green. They could be mistaken for blowflies because of the iridescent color but if you look closely you can see some big differences — especially in the head and eye area.

Blowflies may have icky beginnings (corpse maggots!) but the adults are pollinators. The native fruit tree Asimina triloba (paw paw) relies on blow fly presence. The flowers smell like rotten meat but they will eventually form huge fruit that tastes a bit like bananas or melons. The blowfly & paw paw partnership is another example of how even the ugly bits of the web of life have a purpose.






Now if only that were also true of internet trolls on the world wide web ….






10 thoughts on “Osmia lignaria

  1. An interesting post. They are lovely, shiny black bees. Not the same thing as the carpenter bee I take it? I don’t want to make little houses for them.


    1. My photo doesn’t capture the color very well. They were bright blue. A carpenter bee is much bigger. I have heard that carpenter bees can be a problem but I guess we have been lucky. We had one that was guarding this one little area in my front yard. Every time I went outside I would see it there. Did you know you can play fetch with carpenter bees? it’s true. Great party trick for nerds like me, haha


  2. So handsome! Several of our wind chimes have been pressed into service for various types of mason bees. Once I discovered who it was jamming up the tubes I stopped my rigorous removal attempts. They can have the tubes if they want and I’m happy knowing I’m lending lodging to local pollinators (though now I also provide them other less musically inclined venues).


    1. Wind chimes! How clever. i guess if they jam up the tubes they won’t ring anymore though. Are you growing some fruit on your property? I haven’t seen them on my property but I don’t have anything that they might be interested in I suppose.


      1. The wind chime tubes clunk rather than ring but I have several sets so I’m willing to share. We have several very large loquat trees that draw a lot of interest for both blooms and fruit. Until this winter we also had several small Meyer lemon trees as well. The lemon trees nearly bit the dust but are sending a few exploratory shoots back out so perhaps all is not lost there. Wretched winter!


        1. Wow. All that fruit sounds really nice. It sure was a tough winter. Hope your lemon trees pull through. Just for fun i planted a lemon ‘tree’ from some seeds in January. It took about a month for one of them to finally germinate and I was all excited. I put it outside so it could get more sun and a bird ATE it. I was like: who eats a whole lemon tree? hahaha


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