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Mortar/Masonry Bees and Mining Bees

Mortar/Masonry Bees and Mining Bees                                                                                  



  • Mortar or Masonry bees are slightly smaller than honey bees but similar in appearance. Like all bees they are important pollinators of plants, but unlike honey bees and bumble bees they have no workers and have no collective  nest.

Mortar bees excavate chambers in soft mortar joints in brick walls (approximately 20 mm deep) and mining bees will excavate chambers in soft/sandy soil. Although they are solitary they do excavate their chambers close together and thus give the impression of being a colony and occupying the same habitat.

These solitary bees:

  • Are harmless 
  • Are beneficial
  • They do not pester people, and
  • They do not damage buildings

They look much like honey bees but are generally a little hairier.

Most calls received  by Pestguard in late April and May for bee/wasp problems are in fact solitary bees. Solitary bees are however beneficial insects and non aggressive .

Identification Of Mortar/Masonry/Mining Bees

These bees are small bees with a similar shape to a wasp – they are frequently confused with wasps. They are active during April, May, and early June with the peak of activity in May – too early to be wasps.

Mortar/Masonry bees are invariably seen on sunny days are active in sun facing elevations of buildings. Their activity appears a little confused as they hover over their territory looking for their egg laying chambers. They sometimes block air bricks and keyholes with mud used to construct egg chambers.

Mining bees are found on sun drenched areas of ground. Holes in soil created by mining bees are approximately the diameter of a pencil and are distinguished by a heap of soil around the rim.

The bees pay no attention to people.

If bees are reported active over a wide area, or tend to move with the sun, and are only seen on sunny days over a period of  time, then they are probably solitary bees and not honey bees.


Mortar bees are beneficial insects and do not sting.

Furthermore, the spraying of insecticide is generally unsuccessful as


Posted in: Insects, Mason/Mortar Bees

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