The other day when I was walking my children to school, I noticed this gorgeous bee. How could I not stop and take a picture? She had pollen in her hind leg pockets, and was working away at collecting the nectar from this flower. I think it’s a mason bee, which is a type of solitary bee. Some masons are green (if you do a quick google image search you’ll see some crazy metallic green bees!) and others are blue. Some look more like honeybees.
Mason bees don’t make honey, though – they collect the pollen and nectar to supply the eggs they lay. They’ll find a deep horizontal hole in which to stockpile food, then lay eggs on top of the food and seal the hole with mud (where they got the name ‘mason’) and find another place to start stockpiling more food for more eggs. The larvae will hatch out of the eggs, eat the food, then spin cocoons around themselves, where they will mature into adults and hibernate all winter. In the spring they’ll push their way through the mud blocking the entrance.
You can attract solitary bees by providing them with favourable nesting locations. Drilling deep holes of varying sizes in wood will attract different kinds of solitary bees. You could also use hollow bamboo poles. Here is a blog that mentions leaf cutter bees, and shows great pics of a bamboo bee house. Leaf cutter bees are solitary bees like masons, only they use leaves to pad their nests and block the hole, as you’ll see in the pics.