In case you can’t work this picture out, it shows a vent in the side of a house. Red Mason Bees have used the vent to build their mud cells. In nature they would use holes in wood or inside dead stems, but air bricks and vents provide exactly the size of holes they like. These are males, newly emerged from the cells in which they pupated. Males emerge first, then wait for the females to emerge before mating. Mated females begin collecting pollen and nectar which they mix into a high energy paste. A plug of this paste is inserted at the end of the burrow and a single egg is laid on it. The female bee then builds a mud partition before making anothr plug, then another mud partition and so on until the burrow is full of these little cells and the final mud door built. Then the female flies off and leaves her eggs, which become pupae before overwintering to emerge as adult bees the following Spring. Cleverly the ‘female’ eggs are laid first so that the ‘male’ eggs are nearest the door and can emerge first. This emergence of males is what you see here. We are rather lucky to have them as the counties around the Forth are their only Scottish stronghold.
More Country Corner in this week’s News
So check your house vents. Don’t panic if you see little mud doors. In fact you should feel honoured to play host to these fascinating insects!