Osmia cornuta (European orchard bee)

I’ve recently read that the pollinating efficacy of Osmia cornuta (European orchard bee) is more than five times greater than Apis mellifera (European honeybee). They are specialists in their pollinating focusing on fruit tree blossoms, rather than generalists like the honeybee. They sound like something that would greatly benefit commercial orchardists, and I’ve also read that they were “most likely intentionally introduced” in the 1980s to the U.S. from Spain, but their “establishment has not been documented.” Has anyone here heard anything more about these super bees and their spread, or lack of it?


Pretty sure they are like mason bees, solitary. In orchards, they usually go for honeybees, cause they pull double duty by pumping out honey. Plus in a hive, they are easier to manage and move around orchards.


It’s my understanding that they are not very cold hardy, and would only do well in zones 8 and 9 and even then did not do well with late Spring frost.


There are lots of native bees that are similarly effective. The other thing to consider is that you don’t necessarily need the most effective pollinator, just whatever is effective enough. Do you feel like pollination problems are a limiting factor for you?

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There is an introduced one called Osmia cornifrons. It seems to be very successful. They are the only mason bee I’ve observed in any appreciable number in my yard, and they appeared naturally when I put out mason bee houses.