Gardening · General

Bees at a snail’s pace

This morning I was reading up on early spring bees, as one would obviously do on a cold, rainy winters morning, and I found out about an amazing British solitary bee that likes to live and lay eggs in snail shells. Snail shells of all things!!!

The bee in question would be Osmia Bicolor, otherwise known as the “Two-coloured Mason Bee” or the “Snail thatching bee”.

Below is a wonderful video about just how they use the snails shell.

Now I was reading this article on them but it says that they are really only on the south coast while this page says they are found all the way up to The Wash so I have hopes that Yorkshire is an outside possibility!

So with this amazing hope in place I gathered a few snail shells from around the garden (I have 2 families of blackbirds, so finding empty shells is easier than you think!) and I have placed them in 2 areas where I will be able to see them without disturbing them if they should appear.


Now I also decided to keep a few bits of detritus that I would normally dispose of in the compost bin. Just to the left of the pic above is my Aquilegia which is always good for some dried stems and the like. So I have placed a few bits not too far away from the 2  sites so they still have to move around but it’s there if they find it.

Now I realise this may all be a total pipe-dream and they really don’t come this far north… But if I don’t try I will NEVER know. And if nothing does then maybe something else will make something of them. I will be just as happy!

I think the important thing here is to try.


14 thoughts on “Bees at a snail’s pace

    1. I’m about 40 miles from the sea. Why did you think I did?
      And as far as I know the bee will lay several eggs in one shell then maybe move onto another shell if/when it can.

      And yes… I thought it was odd too. But then Mason bees use holes in walls and sticks to lay eggs too. So maybe not as strange as originally thought!

      1. Well I just thought you might be that lucky living on an island and all. We don’t see big snail shells like that here in the mountains of PA! They lay eggs in the shell? Now we do have mason bees here. They drill hole in our front porch all the time.

        1. No no…The snail shells are tiny… Only about an inch across at best.

          Mason bees? I know carpenter bees can dig into wood but mason bees generally take advantage of pre-made holes. They don’t MAKE holes.

            1. I guess my pic made them look bigger than I intended. Over here snails are generally no bigger than a slug… MAYBE 2″ long? The shells are only small… Big enough for a small bee to fit in.

              1. I recently found out on a blog that we have tiny snails here with those layered pointed shells. Like some big seashells I’ve seen on the east coast here. Then I found one next door on my cousin’s raspberry bushes.

  1. How cool – and thanx for sharing the video. We have mason bees here – I think they are a bit smaller and only one color – very fuzzy and love to help me garden. I have made a mason bee hive, but I now wonder if they would also like the shells? Will try it next summer and see! Thank you again!

    1. You are very welcome!

      I’m not sure if they are a European thing… But you may have a local equivalent??
      And we also have the normal Mason bees. I have a few bee hotels with eggs in them. (Can’t wait fro them to open!)

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