The recent warm spell has brought out the mason bees!
There are around 250 species of solitary bee in the UK, which are a mixture of ground nesting (mining bees) and cavity nesting species (like the mason bee) which love the hollow canes in bee hotels. You might see them buzzing around these right now and spring cleaning their favourite canes!
The red mason bee is the earliest emerger in Spring; the female has distinctive inward curved horns on her head and collects pollen via hairs on her underside. Later on she can be seen collecting wet mud on her face to seal off the cells in the canes where she’s laid her eggs and left a pollen/nectar concoction for the young to feed on.
Spring-flowering fruit trees are vital for these early-emerging solitary bees, as well as wildflowers like white dead nettle, viper’s bugloss, forget-me-not and the humble dandelion. You can help them and other pollinating insects by making sure you have some in your garden.
To learn more about bumblebees, visit: www.bumblebeeconservation.org