The Orchard Bee Association (OBA) was started in Modesto, CA in 2011 by a team of team of independent businesses, orchard managers, and members of both science and academia to accelerate the production and use of orchard mason bees (Osmia lignaria, O. cornifrons, O. cornuta, and O. rufa) in various spring crops and orchards. We encourage a role of stewardship, preservation, and enhancement of orchard bee populations as well as responsible wild bee management practices to preserve local genetic stock of bees with respect to elevation, climate, and local flora.
OBA has a formalized annual meeting for members to present orchard bee research, exchange ideas and concepts, and to discuss organizational affairs. Following the annual meeting, OBA presents a pollinator symposium or other orchard bee-related conference open to the general public to facilitate educational awareness about orchard bees and wild bees used in orchard systems. We maintain a website (www.orchardbee.org) that supports our mission and provides resources to members and to the public as well as promoting international collaboration. OBA provides a listing of resources such as distributors of local orchard bees and supplies. In 2014, OBA became a legally recognized 501(c)3 not-for-profit professional society governed by a board comprised of members.
Traditionally, honey bees have been our primary orchard insect pollinators. Solitary bees, or non-social bees, have been largely ignored. Although other bees are occasionally topics of research or trade, the following solitary bees are proven orchard pollinators and are the usual focus of the Orchard Bee Association:
- Osmia lignaria (also known as the Blue Orchard Bee)
- Osmia cornifrons
- Osmia cornuta
- Osmia rufa