I have some good news and some bad news about Mason Bees. The bad news is that they live solitary lives and don't produce honey like Honey Bees. The good news is that they don't sting and they live solitary lives - more on why that is good news below. Mason bees are excellent pollinators and the Morris Arboretum houses a number of them at Bloomfield Farm (the site of the new Horticulture Center).
In the last several years, there has been great concern about the declining honey bee population due to the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). CCD is of significant concern because many plants depend on pollination from Honey Bees. In contrast, Mason Bees are solitary bees and don't have the same type of colony structure and therefore are not affected by CCD. The Mason Bees are pollinators just like Honey Bees - and pollinate many plants around the Arboretum - without the threat of CCD.
Morris Arboretum also has Honey Bees and we sell our own honey at the Gift Shop - honey makes a great gift and is supposedly helpful with allergies.
You can find out more about Mason bees here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mason_bee
A close up shot of a Mason Bee: I was happy to find out that they don't sting and I could get up and close with the bees to take a picture.
A picture from the Mason Bee box at Bloomfield Farm - the female bees enter into these cavities where they will lay their eggs.