It's been cold and rainy for the past week here in Indiana and the mason bees have been forced to stay in their nests. Today, the sun is out and it's 57 degrees and I spotted a few females out collecting pollen.
The female in this photo was resting on a bird feeder in the sun only a few feet away from her nesting house. I put my hand out to her and she crawled on to my finger. She was moving slowly and appeared very weak. I took her over to the forget-me-nots, which are about the only thing blooming in the yard today. I expected her to be hungry and wow, was she ever! She put her whole proboscis, or tongue, into the flower and stayed there. Eventually she moved on to another flower and another but was still weak. She allowed me to move her to another cluster of flowers and she foraged there long enough for me to go inside and get my camera.
Mason bees are typically very busy gathering pollen and wouldn't spend so much time nectaring, but this female was clearly very hungry after so many cold days in her nest. After about five minutes of slurping nectar, I moved her into a flower cluster that was getting direct sun. I wouldn't try this with most other bees, but then again, most other bees wouldn't let me. Mason bees are gentle, non-aggressive, and they don't mind being around people. She foraged there, started fluttering her wings, and flew off. Just another satisfying day as a native bee detective!
“A multitude of small delights constitutes happiness.” — Charles Baudelaire