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Watch: Mason Bee pulls nail from wall - 10 amazing Mason Bee facts

A viral video captures a mason bee pulling a nail from a brick wall, showcasing its strength. Mason bees are solitary, efficient pollinators that nest in natural cavities. They rarely sting and are crucial for biodiversity.

By Ground report
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Watch: Mason Bee pulls nail from wall - 10 amazing Mason Bee facts

Photo credit: André Karwath aka Aka/Wikimedia Commons and Viral video screen grab

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A tiny mason bee has amazed viewers and scientists by pulling a nail out of a brick wall in a viral video. The footage gained renewed interest after being shared on platforms like LiveLeak.

Originally captured in England and posted on YouTube in 2012, it shows a blue-black metallic mason bee persistently trying to remove a nail from a brick wall. The nail, initially flush against the brick, gradually loosens under the bee's efforts.

Throughout the video, the cameraman expresses surprise. He says, "Look at that," encouraging the tiny worker, "You can do it." And the bee does. Despite the nail's size, the insect burrows into the wall, pushing until the nail slips free.

Experts have identified the industrious insect as a mason bee, a solitary species known for its nesting habits. Unlike honeybees, mason bees don't live in hives or produce honey. Instead, they lay their eggs in natural cavities like woodpecker holes, insect burrows, or hollow plant stems.

What are Mason Bees?

Mason bees refer to any bee species within the genus Osmia, part of the Megachilidae family. These bees, also known as masonry bees, are native to their regions and are named for their habit of using materials like mud to construct their nests.

These bees lay their eggs and nest inside existing tunnels, which can be naturally created by beetles and plants or made by humans. The exterior of a Mason bee nest features multiple circles, representing tunnels typically six inches deep. According to The Ecological Landscape Alliance, Mason bees prefer holes that are 5/16” in diameter.

Inside these tunnels, Mason bees lay their eggs, placing female eggs at the back to protect them from predators and male eggs towards the front. At the end of the season, usually by early summer, Mason bees seal the openings of their nesting tubes with mud.

Bee removes nail from nest

Dr. Lynn Dicks, a research fellow from Cambridge University's Department of Zoology, provided insights into the bee's behavior. "Mason bees usually choose existing holes rather than excavating their own," she said. "I've never seen anything like this and suspect that the nail was placed in a nest hole this bee had already started using. This would explain its urgency to remove the nail - it may have eggs or larvae inside."

They get their name from their nest-building habits. After laying eggs in cavities, they seal off these cells with mud, hence the "mason" moniker. In modern environments with few natural cavities, they use whatever holes they find.

Adaptability is crucial because modern cement is too strong for these bees to burrow into. They're forced to find alternative holes, which might explain the bee's determined efforts in the video, faced with a shortage of natural cavities.

Mason bees are highly valued in gardens and agriculture as excellent pollinators, more efficient than honeybees for certain crops, despite their low honey production. Moreover, they rarely sting, making them safe for humans. Females sting when trapped or squeezed, and males don't have a stinger.

Over 300 mason bee species are found in the Northern Hemisphere, with over 130 in North America, making them unsung biodiversity heroes due to their role in nature.

Facts about Mason Bees

  • Every female Mason bee is a queen who locates her own nest, lays her own eggs, and protects them, unlike honey bees.
  • These bees are solitary and work alone without relying on a colony.
  • Bees do not produce honey.
  • Unlike honey bees, These bees build their nests about 300 feet from the best selection of flowers.
  • There are 130 species of these bees across North America.
  • They rarely use their stingers, and their stings are less painful than those of honey bees since they lack venom.
  • Bees do not destroy to create their homes; they nest only in natural or human-made holes.
  • These bees can sometimes be mistaken for houseflies due to their black/blue bodies, but they have a distinct buzzing sound, not a hum.
  • Six Mason bees can pollinate one fruit tree, compared to 10,000 honey bees.
  • Female bees can determine the sex of the eggs they lay.

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