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UK Nature > Bees > Osmia bicornis
Common Name: Red Mason Bee
Scientific Name: Osmia bicornis
Osmia bicornis or, as it is more commonly known, the Red Mason Bee, is an aerial nesting bee that often nests in holes in walls and timber. Flies from late March to late May. The males are smaller than the females (8 - 10 mm, as opposed to 10 to 12 mm). Both sexes are covered in dense gingery hairs, the male with white tufts on the head while the female's head is black. One key feature in identifying females is the presence of two 'horns' on the front of the head (see photo above).
Osmia bicornis is active from early spring, the male being the first to appear when the weather becomes mild in March, the female emerging later. Like all bees it feeds on pollen. It is a solitary bee, each nest being the work of a single female bee working alone. They nest in pre-existing cavities such as hollow plant stems, old garden canes, air bricks, and even old nail holes in fence posts, lining the inside of the cavity with mud. Common and widespread in England and Wales, less records from further north.
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