The wild ones

The truly "wild" mason bees... living in the foothills of Salt Lake City!

Today I checked in on Osmia californica, the late-spring mason bees of my previous post, at the Red Butte Garden Natural Area. They are "out" in full force!  I observed a few females going back and forth from this trap box and some others visiting arrowleaf balsamroot, the yellow flowers pictured below, for pollen. Arrowleaf balsamroot is one of O. californica's favorite foods...

 Looking southwest across the valley from Red Butte Natural Area (Bennett Vista Trail).

Looking southwest across the valley from Red Butte Natural Area (Bennett Vista Trail).

  Osmia  female on arrowleaf balsamroot (Red Butte Garden).

Osmia female on arrowleaf balsamroot (Red Butte Garden).

On the way back down I passed a local "watering hole" (a big patch of wet soil) where male Osmia were cruising... pouncing on every female that touched down for a drink. Male bees don't make nests or live in them, so they spend their days pursuing the opposite sex and their nights curled up somewhere, unprotected. How to tell a male Osmia? Think Tom Selleck.