Saturday, November 3, 2012
Blue Orchard Mason Bee
I made my sixth bee of the region. This is an important local bee, Osmia Lignaria, known as the orchard mason bee, or blue orchard bee, in a lino block print on Japanese kozo (mulberry) paper with gorgeous, irridecent, translucent non-woven blue and gossamer-like white silk tissue washi chine collé (collaged fine Japanese paper). Each print is 15.2 cm (6 inches) square. The print is one of only 7.
Working with these papers was challenging. They are remarkably strong for their nature... but they are almost more like barely-there fabric, than paper. The white tissue really is like spider silk; strong, yet breakable and very very fine.
We think of bees as living in hives, but these bees live in reeds or natural holes which they divide into chambers with mud walls. We also tend to picture yellow and black stripes, but this small bee is blue to blue-green. Osmia Lignaria is a common species used for early spring fruit bloom in Canada and the United States, though a number of species of other Osmia are cultured for use in pollination. Bee keepers often make collections of paper tubes of wooden 'bee condos' in which these useful bees can make their nests. You can build your own bee condo, if you are interested.