As you may have noticed, much of the country has been experiencing an abnormally long, cool, and wet spring, which has led to a reduction in the number of completed, capped nesting cavities by mason bees.
Mason bees are hearty insects that will fly in cooler temperatures and even drizzle. Still, extended periods of temps in the 40s and continuous rain will keep even the most determined mason bees from flying.
If that wasn't enough, this year's weather has led to a phenological mismatch. Phenology is the relationship between environmental conditions and biological processes such as bloom timing for flowing plants and insect development — or nature's calendar. A mismatch occurs when the timing of when flowers bloom and when pollinators emerge is not simultaneous. For example, if flowers bloom before the bees emerge, then plants won't get pollinated. And, if bees emerge before plants bloom, then bees will not have the food sources necessary to reproduce.
Video Explanation: High Country News produced a short video, "Wild Science: Will climate change force bees to miss flower season?". It's definitely worth a watch!
Unfortunately, abnormal weather and mismatches in the emergence of bees and spring blooms are expected to become more common as climate change continues. To learn more about how unusual weather (hot and cold) affects bee populations, read our blog post, Climate Change: It's Bad for Bees.
Since our business relies on the success of responsible beekeepers like you, we know all to well how frustrating it can be when mason bees don't do well due to situations out of our control, but there is some light at the end of this chilly tunnel. Even when cold temps reduce survival and reproduction rates, the bees that do survive will be more fit and produce stronger offspring - natural selection! Allowing nature to adapt to the changing climate is vital for the species' future.
Plus, by creating healthy pollinator habitat, you're helping give these important pollinators (and your gardens) the best chance of success during periods of abnormal weather. So, for that, we THANK YOU!
Good luck, and we hope your mason bees are doing well this season! Next month, we'll be sending out a survey to learn a bit more about how mason bee raisers were affected (or not) by the long, cold spring — keep an eye out; we value your input!
Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. We're here to help in any way we can.
~The Crown Bees Team
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