Although honey bees provide successful pollination for most blueberries, there are some situations where honey bees may not be the best pollinator of choice.
Mason bees are a good choice for late blueberry varieties. The reason is that when late blooming varieties bloom, many other flowers, such as blackberry are also in bloom. Blackberry bloom produces copious amounts of nectar and soon all honey bees go to blackberry instead of blueberry bloom.
The big advantage of using mason bees is that mason bees do not travel far to find their source of pollen and nectar (like honey bees). Honey bees will travel significant distances for the best nectar, while mason bees remain local foragers.
Some blueberry varieties are known to be difficult to pollinate by honey bees. In this situation, honey bees travel away from the variety to other varieties that may have a richer source of nectar for example. In this case, mason bees are more likely to ‘stick’ around the variety that is closest to their nest.
At this stage of the mason bee industry, mason bees are more and more available for the commercial pollination of blueberry and other crops. Mason bees are now produced in the hundreds of thousands rather than the thousands of 20 years ago. This expanding production makes pollination with mason bees a reality. Dr. Margriet Dogterom