Blue Orchard Bees

Discussion in 'Mason & other alternative bees' started by Iddee, Mar 11, 2010.

  1. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I made 4 nesting blocks and got 3 of them mounted this morning. The last one will go to the lake cabin.

    Anyone else putting them out?
     
  2. BeeHunter

    BeeHunter New Member

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    Idee I know a guy who triedthem last year. wasny impressed. Thought I'd try some for fun. How do you get them started? Do you buy them in the straws?
     

  3. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Yes! I too have ordered nesting tubes, houses, and some cocoons of the blue orchard mason bee. They pollinate trees and gardens, are beneficial to our planet in many ways, and are cute as a button as well. What a great little bee to encourage and keep in your garden or yard, especially for those people who are not able to keep honeybee hives where they live.
    I know they are in my area, because I saw some on my flowers during the past two summers. They particularly loved my crab apple tree and my blue morning glories, which I'll be planting again. I plan on providing nesting tube houses, water, and a source of damp nest-building mud for the little blue mason bees to thrive on so they hang around my house and garden and hopefully multiply. I ordered mason bee supplies and houses from here: http://www.seedcake.com/mason-bee and here: http://www.davesbees.com/masonbees.html . I ordered 40 cocoons just to be sure of having some bees right away, and one wood block house with removable back from Dave's bees, and also several 'can' type houses with many refill tubes. I have parchment baking paper for making new tube liners when needed.
    It may be getting a little late to order cocoons for this Spring, but if you can't find any left to order, you can always just try your luck by setting out houses and trying to attract any solitary bees that might already be in your area. The houses should be set up before your local fruit trees bloom if possible.
    I actually got a 20 cocoon + 'can house' setup for my best friend as well, since her birthday is in two weeks and she's always sighing enviously over my honeybees but sadly can't keep hives where she lives. She'll be so amazed and delighted!
    Here is a good website with links to learning more about solitary bees: http://www.pollinatorparadise.com/solit ... LITARY.HTM
    We should all consider providing for our beneficial insects and other wild animal friends who are struggling. I ordered a bat house as well, which we will attach to the eaves of the house. Bats are having a hard time around here as well- they are dropping in numbers due to a 'white nose fungus' that is devastating their colonies. :(
     
  4. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Zane, I cut a 4X4 into pieces about a foot long. Then I drill 5/16 holes in it, all but about a 1/4 inch through. I drill them 4 across, or about 3/4 inch apart, then all the way down about 3/4 in. apart. It gives me 50 to 60 holes per block. Then I hang it under an eave or other rain guard, facing east to south. I don't spend money on them, as they are a native American bee and will find the blocks.

    Omie, I have a bat house about 12 foot up on a power pole in my yard. My wife made me run them out of my basement when rabies reports started coming in around here.
     
  5. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Is this your first time doing this, or have you had success with attracting the mason bees to these blocks before?

    Do you know if bats are using it yet?
     
  6. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    First time trying after having a speaker at the local bee club talk on it. He said he has used them for about 8 years.

    One pair of bats so far. Hopefully, they will start a colony.
     
  7. gord hutchings

    gord hutchings New Member

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    Regarding the suggestion of simply drilling a series of holes in a block of wood. This is the style you don't want to use if you want to do proper OMB husbandry. One has to extract cocoons out at end of summer, and clean the cocoons off from their associated mites, Chaetodactylus krombeini. Otherwise, like not weeding your garden, you're encouraging the mites to take over and completely crash your captive brood population of your condo. Yes, nature has lots of holes around but if you want to do a proper job, just like Apis-keeping, one has to do a little work at it. Here's another analogy - like not cleaning your hummingbird feeder from its ants, mould and other diseases that can harm them in the long run.
    You should go to a 6.5mm or 5/16" channeled stacked tray system as can been seen in my Youtube video. Each stacked tray has a clear cover on top for observation of the bee's activities, plus you can tell when they're done and put the condo away from parasitoids and birds etc. that might gnaw on the condo. Put away outside somewhere like a garden shed, and do your cleaning in the late Fall or Winter. This technique is also seen in the Youtube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrZkT9cC ... re=related
    Also, if you go to a longer condo, say about 12", you'll encourage more production of female progeny for next year's emergence. Shorter lengths have more males since the egg-laying females always lay the last few (outer) cells with males, hense if you have a longer channel, you'll get a higher yield of females per length of channel (my research at university). In my parts of the world, Vancouver Island, B.C., I found this to be 29cm or about 11 1/2". Hope that helps.
    Here's another link to a very small article I wrote a couple of years ago, but it has a drawing of a typical stacked tray system. Also, here's a recent article in my local paper.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSr88h8iKQk newspaper article
    http://www.cbc.ca/ontheisland/ Go to March 10 podcast
    http://www.compost.bc.ca/newsandevents/ ... 202008.pdf article and drawing
    Gord
     
  8. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Gord,
    Your mark right on about the wooden drilled holes, disease and problems. I like your removable tray system.

    I've been breeding and selling masons for a few years now. I use a cardboard tube system with paper inserts. Makes harvesting and cleaning the cocoons very easy. The cardboard tubes are reused many times.

    I think there are many bad products on the market when it comes to mason bee homes. Taking some peices of wood and drilling a few holes in it, does not make a healthy environment for mason. I see others having mason bees, and after the holes are used once, the holes become filled, dirty, and the mason bees move on. The best way to keep healthy masons is by providing clean nesting holes every year.

    You can see a couple of my simple cans filled with tubes on my website. I normally take them down after the season, and store in the garage.
     
  9. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    very interesting discussion. I used the blue mason bee in one of my talks about pollinators but I never really knew there was any extensive interest in the specie. thanks to all for sharing.
     
  10. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Welcome to the forum and thanks for posting. As said above, I just got into the OMB's when we had a speaker at our local club. Maybe you can continue to educate us on them and other native pollinators. The way the honeybee is going, I think we are going to need an alternative.
     
  11. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Yes, you have to have a way of providing clean nesting tubes each year.
    I too am using the paper tube liners method. I have two boxes up so far:
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_9fPBEJTqGzw/S ... -18-10.jpg
    One box is pretty cool, made by Daves Bees: http://www.davesbees.com/index.html
    He has a video on how to make his wood block style nest houses: http://www.davesbees.com/buildblock.html The back is removable and you can slip out the paper lining full of cocoons and clean/store them over winter. You then put a new clean paper liner in for the following year. I also can a 'can' system with replaceable paper liners as well.

    Next I am going to try a block with various diameter nesting holes with liners, to see if other species of native bees move in besides the blue orchard bee (which likes 5/16" holes).
     
  12. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Here is a mating/nesting box for mason I put out yesterday. It holds 370 tubes, with 32 filled starter tubes. It is actually a 3 frame nuc box.

    I'll take a picture at the end of the mason season and see how many tubes get filled. Should be in excess of 150.

    http://i186.photobucket.com/albums/x236 ... CN0399.jpg
     
  13. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Ooohhh!! Nice! :D

    Do you use unlined tubes?
    Also- do you not have woodpeckers getting all over that ?
     
  14. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    They all have paper liners.

    So far, I have not had any problems with woodpeckers.

    I did notice your screen. Made me think about it for mine.
     
  15. rast

    rast New Member

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    Yep, all that Iddee said and I for one don't know a thing about them.
     
  16. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Here are a few other random coll solitary/native/mason bee sites I've accumulated:

    http://www.pollinatorparadise.com/solit ... LITARY.HTM
    http://www.knoxcellars.com/Merchant5/me ... _Code=KCNP
    http://www.foxleas.com/bee_house.htm
    http://translate.google.com/translate?h ... /index.htm
    http://freshdirt.sunset.com/2009/05/b-1.html
    http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes ... te109.html
    http://solitarybee.com/blog/
    http://www.xerces.org/pollinator-resource-center/
    http://pencilandleaf.blogspot.com/

    I'm very excited because on Monday in two days from now, I will be giving a gift of a mason bee house with paper-lined tubes and wooden box and 3 tubes of cocoons all ready to go to my best girlfriend who always wishes she could keep bees. She recently came back form Zurich and was so excited to tell me about the 'wild bienen' solitary bee nesting environments she saw there that were so beautifully made. She has NO IDEA that she'll be getting her VERY OWN complete mason bee colony on her birthday! :Dancing:
     
  17. gord hutchings

    gord hutchings New Member

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    Dear Iddee,
    I don't know which detail to cover regarding spreading the education about Osmia lignaria. Actually, I just finished my class today here in Victoria and it's always fun to take people outside afterwards and open a box of bees chewing their way out of their cocoons right before their eyes. I even put one on my nose for the photographer from one of the local newspapers to take a photo of.
    Regarding your comment "The way the honeybee is going...". Actually, our native, solitary bees have always been here, pollinating in their own superior way, and getting little recognition and/or credit for the service they provide. It has been suggested that worldwide, Apis mellifera only provides about 15% of the pollination of our crops, and other insects (and vertebrates - hummingbirds, bats, wind etc.), do the rest (Parker et al. 1987; Richards 1996; Kevan 1999). If you look just at the way Osmia is a solitary bee and that their scopa being on the ventor of the abdomen, these "sloppy" bees that fly all over the place, are so inefficient at retaining pollen, that their sloppiness equates into much more cross pollination/fertilisation of plants, hense the plant's flower getting germinated. They also don't do any communicating to other bees (waggle dance etc. in Apis mellifera), and so they fly hither-thither and don't whack the heck out of one main source of pollen and nectar from a localised area say, in an orchard. If you look at the pollen in just one cell, you'll see the variety of colours demonstrating the collecting from various sources. That is if you have a stacked tray type condo with peek-a-boo covers on them, these are the type that I manufacture and sell anyways. Bosch and Kemp estimate that each cell requires 15-35 loads of pollen. Each load requires 75 flower visits. Therefore, say an average provision per cell is ~25 loads of pollen x 75 flowers = 1875 flowers visit/cell. I have 12" channels (with the clear covers) with no intercalary cells, proving that one female has provided for that whole channel, and the number of cells in that channel range between 15-18 cells. 1875 x 15 cells = a large number of flowers visited by a sloppy bee, cross-pollinating in the process! This is all stuff that I teach in my courses but you get the idea - I'm a huge fan of our native pollinators and they deserve credit. They also deserve proper methods of husbandry which includes proper cocoon extraction and cleaning methods. So, if you want to check out my Youtube video on "How To Clean Orchard Mason Bees Using Sand", please do and comment on what you see.
    If you look at the above comment of mine from March 24th, the links are all there.
    Cheers,
    Gord
     
  18. gord hutchings

    gord hutchings New Member

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  19. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I put my mason cocoons out in the new nesting boxes today. :)
     
  20. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    :thumbsup:

    I had to take mine from the previous cool garage to the fridge about two weeks ago. They started hatching.

    Put out another box today, although I had to slog through a feild full of standing water and mud.

    This weekend, the masons should be popping out. :Dancing: