Fantastic close-up video from KQED shows how mason bees create their nests by gathering wet soil to divide the nesting tunnel. Mason bees are not active currently -- these ladies are early spring bees -- but there are many other solitary species currently building nests using a range of materials, including leaf pieces, chewed up leaves, sawdust, tree resin, and even, in the case of the diminutive yellow-faced bees (genus Hylaeus), a cellophane-like material secreted from glands on their body. It may take a year for the next generation of bees to emerge, which is why undisturbed nest sites are so important for native bees.
Last week, just before the Department of Interior decided it was okay to use neonicotinoids on national wildlife refuges (see yesterday’s post), the California Department of Pesticide Regulation published a report that concluded that neonics pose a significant threat to bees. CDPR is likely to introduce restrictions of the insecticides’ use.