An­i­mal ar­chi­tects

How ma­son bees use flow­ers to keep their off­spring safe

World of Animals - - What's Inside -

With­out the sup­port of a colony, soli­tary bees have to come up with cre­ative ways of keep­ing their off­spring safe. Bees in the genus Os­mia are known as ma­son bees be­cause they build nests in cracks and cav­i­ties and seal them with ma­te­ri­als like clay and mud. One species, Os­mia avosetta, pro­duces nests much pret­tier than the oth­ers; the fe­males dig shal­low bur­rows and line them with care­fully se­lected flower petals ready for their eggs.

Lay­er­ing up After pa­per­ing the walls of the bur­row with over­lap­ping petals, the fe­male bee spreads a thin coat­ing of mud over them be­fore adding an­other layer. Most ma­son bees seal ex­ist­ing cav­i­ties and tubes with mud and chewed leaves to cre­ate their nestsShel­ter from the cold The nest cell doesn’t just keep the egg safe from the out­side world – it also keeps con­di­tions cosy enough in­side for the larva to sur­vive a cold win­ter.

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