Social Honey Bee
ALTERNATIVE TO HONEY BEES
Hive-less solitary bees, like the mason and leafcutter bee, are gentle, easy to raise and are amazing pollinators. Most people are familiar with their European honey bee cousin, but there are major differences between these incredible insects:
- No hive to defend means solitary bees are gentle & non-aggressive.
- They pollinate up to 100 times more effectively than honey bees.
- They do not build a hive or make honey, instead they raise their young in nesting holes.
- They are easy-to-raise by anyone and require far less maintenance than honey bees. Not to mention, they are fun for kids and adults!
- They do not induce anaphylactic shock and they rarely sting.
- They are native to North America, this means they will not become invasive.
WHY HIVELESS BEES ARE UNIQUE
Gentle & Non-Aggressive
Solitary bees are much less aggressive than honey bees because they do not have a hive and stores of honey to defend. Solitary bees only sting as a last resort to defend themselves if you accidentally squish or step on them. A rare sting from a solitary bee hurts less because their sting lacks the venom that honey bees make, which eliminates the fear of an allergic reaction. Male bees of any bee species do not even have stingers! Mason and leafcutter bees are so gentle that you can stand at the entrance of their nesting house and watch them come and go and they won’t bother you (unless they accidentally bonk you on your nose as they fly out).
Easy-to-Raise & Fun-to-Watch
Raising bees that build their nests in holes is easy, all you need to do is place their cocoons in their nesting house and harvest next year’s cocoons. The only time that you will touch a solitary bee is when you handle the cocoon, and that means that you don’t need a head-to-toe (and expensive) protective suit. To get ready to care for solitary bees all you do is to step outside. The steps for taking care of solitary bees take about 1-2 hours per year for a backyard gardener. You’ll probably spend more time standing at their house watching the bees come and go.
Safe for Family & Pets
Taking care of solitary bees is an activity that the whole family can enjoy. Children will delight at holding a mason bee cocoon as the bee chews its way out. Holding an emerging mason bee is similar to holding a ladybug; the newly emerged bee cleans itself off, warms up, and flies away.
No Hive or Honey Upkeep
Solitary bees don’t live in hives and since they are hibernating during the winter so there is no need to supplement their diet. They don’t produce honey so that means no opening hives to check on production and no purchase or rental of honey harvesting equipment.
Grow More Food
One hive-less bee like the mason bee has the pollination ability of 100 honey bees. They are better able to distribute the pollen flower to flower than honey bees because of the way they carry dry pollen on their body. Honey bees dampen the pollen with their saliva so it sticks to its hind legs and can be carried back efficiently to the hive, feeding thousands of bees. Hole-nesting bees, on the other hand, don't have a hive to worry about and they lay around 20 eggs in their lifetime.