Red mason bee, (Osmia bicornis- O. rufa) life cycle -video

June 20, 2012

in A selection of my garden wildlife videos, Red mason solitary bees, Solitary Bee Observation Box

Red mason bee life cycle video

“It does give me a great buzz to see my two new educational bee nest boxes in a physical form from concepts inside my mind. Our honey bees are declining as well as our wild bee populations, due to use of chemicals, habitat loss and loss of forage. Who will pollinate our food and wild flowers? Our comprehension of their needs and life cycles requires education and both of my bee boxes stimulates interest, enhances our knowledge of the bees themselves and can re connect us with nature. Ultimately we and the bees can all benefit.  We can provide safe chemical free havens in our gardens for these lovely and useful creatures and watch and learn at our leisure.”

Solitary bee  box

Alongside my research for bumblebees and their usage of nest boxes I did the same for wild or solitary bees. This video of red mason bees, encapsulates the research into solitary bee ecology, via a newly designed solitary bee box. The nest box made of heavy duty FSC Wood, manufactured in NW England, allows you to watch for example, red mason bees making mud cells, egg laying, pollen storing, larval growth and cocoon spinning. The unique viewing panels allow you to study and observe their complete life cycles with minimal disturbance and are designed for easy removal when cleaning and for removing cocoons. Optional extras include a cocoon storage box that affixes to the underneath of the main nest box and interchangeable nest blocks designed to attract other wild and beneficial insects such as harmless solitary wasps, that paralyse caterpillars, aphids or even spiders to feed to their young!

See my new Registered Design award winning solitary bee box and bumblebee nest box both of which are radical, practical and educational, offering them a safer nesting environment in which you can observe the bees. Great for schools!

“All my articles and videos, available free, are funded by my  teaching and sales of award winning bumblebee nest boxessolitary bee boxes,  and wormeries. Please help by spreading the word and forwarding this link to your friends and colleagues.  Thank you” George Pilkington


For more information about solitary bees and wasps visit BWARS

For more bumblebee information and to help save bumblebees join the Bumblebee Conservation Trust at Stirling University

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo Chesworth June 21, 2012 at 9:32 am

Hi George, I work for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and subscribe to the Bee Walk yahoo group – as such I saw your video about the Red Mason Bee life cycle – just wanted to say it is great ! Really good to see how they make their nests.




nurturingnature June 21, 2012 at 10:22 am

Thanks very much Jo. Its nice to get feedback! I marvel at their work rate and that of bumblebees themselves. This all goes on behind closed doors! My new wild bee nest box will be available soon and won’t be behind closed doors!

Thanks again. Cheers George


marian February 7, 2013 at 6:04 pm

hi George. Have taken your advice and cleaned all the cocoons from the mason bees 116 in all, so very pleased!! Have also managed to carefully peel all the leaves around the cocoons of the very few leaf cutters only 23 in all. They had an extremely bad year, so wet and cold here in late summer. Have cleaned these as well, lots of mites I’m sad to say. I’ve kept these seperate from the masons, but do I adopt the same process as with the masons i.e. damp vermiculite, and should these few be released a bit later than the mason cocoons??

Thanks for your advice as always George



nurturingnature February 15, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Will email you some useful information Marian. Welcome to the small number of bee cocoon managers in Uk team! Bfn George


Kim Chamberlain August 1, 2014 at 7:52 am

Hi, i’ve been watching an insect box recently and noticed leaf cutter bees using the box and going about their business. They’ve never used the box before, but we did have a lot of bees occupying a blue tit nesting box last year, would they be the same type of bee? Should I clean the insect box out when the bees have vacated? and how will I know when they’ve finished using the box? Sorry to be vague but as I said we’ve never experienced them before and I would like to make sure they visit next year if possible?


Kim Chamberlain


nurturingnature August 3, 2014 at 10:06 pm

Sounds more like tree bumblebees in your blue tit nest box… if not finished they will soon be dead except for any queens, if the nest was a success. Yes clean and sterilise your blue tit nest box. Your leaf cutters will lay eggs, which next year hopefully will be the next generation.Cheers, George


Jill Smith August 24, 2016 at 4:17 pm

Hi George. great success with your fab bee-box. I live in Surrey, just South of Heathrow, and as we had a very mild spell in early Spring, I panicked a bit, as my runner beans were nowhere near ready! I had all of last year’s cocoons still in bamboo tubes, from the older house. So, I put them all in the fridge! Took them out a bit late but they have all hatched out absolutely fine. I put the tubes in the bottom compartment of the new box, so that they would hopefully ‘home’ into that. In the mean-time, other leaf-cutters had started nesting in the empty bamboo tubes in the older house. Last Winter I had 12 tubes of cocoons, this year I have 30+! Wow. Incidentally, I have also had an absolutely bumper year with my runner beans, started picking 23/06/16, (at least 3 weeks earlier than usual) have just had a ‘lean’ couple of weeks, because I think the extreme heat a few weeks ago affected the plants badly, but am picking well again and so far have picked nearly 60lbs off of 36 plants. I am NO gardener, and only grow runner beans, but my wonderful bees have certainly been superb pollinators. Plus I have found it absolutely fascinating and very educational. Sincerely, Jill.


nurturingnature August 24, 2016 at 9:47 pm

Wow Jill, 60lb from 36 plants that’s fantastic. Good ol bees eh!! Thx for sharing , cheers George


Marian August 24, 2016 at 10:31 pm

Hi George
Leaf cutters are still busy, but the blue tits have taken a fancy at pecking some of the cocoons once a complete chamber has been filled by the leaf cutters. Hope it hasn’t done too much damage but bearing In mind the last of the eggs laid are male bees for next year I don’t know. Can you enlighten me on the subject please !!

Hopefully there will be plenty of solitary bees for next year, just sad that not many mason bees, plenty of leaf cutters though and my rose bush leaves look very different with lots of patterned circles !!

Bye for now


nurturingnature August 25, 2016 at 1:52 pm

Hi Marian, If you want to still look at the bee cells and providing they have finishes, you could simply turn the whole inner unit around and re insert. Putting up a temporary mesh in front would stop the blue tits. Make sure its wide enough for the bees to still fly through though. If they have finished I would refer to your instructions that came with the box. They are targets for pests left in situ! Cheers, George


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