View Full Version : mason beekeepers out there???
01-13-2006, 12:04 PM
I have some questions about mason bees.
Anybody keep them?
Anyone use them for early hot-house or greenhouse pollination?
Can you keep them enclosed in greenhouses for late winter/early spring pollination of indoor crops?
Should you place them outside the greenhouse and let them fly in and out the open sides of the greenhouse?
Can anyone recommend a good mason bee book based on raising, selling, and using them for pollination?
01-13-2006, 01:22 PM
Check these guys out:
Many of our regional associations in Oregon have invited them to present at their monthly meetings.
Outstanding! They also brought along free plans for nesting boxes for all sorts of native bees, such as bumble bees and various solitary bees.
We in the Northwest are very blessed to have Matthew Sheppard (noted on the website) locally.
Call them and see about a local presentation.
They'll tell you everything you want to know.
[ January 13, 2006, 02:22 PM: Message edited by: HarryVanderpool ]
01-13-2006, 01:29 PM
> Anybody keep them?
The usual "Orchard Mason Bee" as promoted by
Knox Cellars and in various books simply does
not do well anywhere east of the Rockies.
The "Japanese Hornfaced Bee" does much better
in the east, which is what I have.
> Anyone use them for early hot-house or
> greenhouse pollination?
I'm confused by the question - what except
greenhouse tomatoes would ever be pollinated
IN the greenhouse? For tomatoes, one needs
bumblebees to do the more aggressive "buzz"
> Can you keep them enclosed in greenhouses for
> late winter/early spring pollination of indoor
I haven't tried yet, but I can deploy a few
tubes in my greenhouse, and see how they do.
(I use mine in my orchard)
> Should you place them outside the greenhouse
> and let them fly in and out the open sides of
> the greenhouse?
The same problem exists either way, bees tend
to get confused by the glare on the glazing,
and get "trapped" unless one has vents/exits
that can be reached by buzzing upward from
any point along the glazing.
> Can anyone recommend a good mason bee book
> based on raising, selling, and using them for
The books on Orchard Mason Bees (Osmia lignaria)
are perfectly applicable to Japanese Hornfaced
Bees (Osmia cornifrons). The basics of management
are identical. Go to abebooks.com, and type
"Orchard Bee" into the title search box.
The tube systems sold by Knox Cellars are
also applicable to the Japanese Hornfaced Bee.
01-13-2006, 02:00 PM
I used to have leafcutter bee boards. I don't have the boards anymore, but there are a lot of leafcutters around my place. Here are some pictures of Leafcutters and some info:
Sorry, I've never tried using them in a greehouse.
01-13-2006, 02:09 PM
Jim, Thanks. I really have no clue as to what I have. I was called last year about bees being around a barn at a farm market I pollinate for. I thought they were calling about a swarm of honeybees. It turned out to be a little bees that was using holes on the underside of the exposed barn beams. I placed 4 bee blocks with proper holes and they filled about 35 to 50 holes in each block. So I have my "native" stock, whatever it is. I assumed they were masons, but it may turn out to be hornfaced instead.
I am just trying to figure what to do with them and the limitations of using them. I know bumblebee colonies are sold and used for greenhouses. They place them inside the greenhouses and let them there. I have several farms that have greenhouses, tunnel structures and hothouse buildings that when the temp is warm enough, they roll the sides up since its plastic. Some have used bumblebee from Canada to pollinate inside the greenhouses and to get an earlier crop, which most are doing, they need early pollination. I have seen more than tomatoes inside greenhouses. I am quite sure I have seen peppers and other crops being grown early season. But I'll check on that statement about only tomatoes being grown or needing pollination inside a green house. Some greenhouses have propane systems and I am sure I have seen other things other than tomatoes. I was hoping the list would be long and the demand great, but maybe I'm just wishing. Are you saying bumblebees are needed for tomatoes instead of honeybees or/and is that statement also true for mason and/or hornfaced?
My question is if the bee colony was located inside the greenhouse, would there be a problem if the were confined inside due to a cold spring. I know bumblebees are noted as very good pollinators of greenhouses and do not have problems with glass, light, etc. Are mason or Hornfaced any good?
Thank you Harry for the site.
01-13-2006, 03:50 PM
> So I have my "native" stock, whatever it is. I
> assumed they were masons, but it may turn out to
> be hornfaced instead.
Got any photos that show "facial features"?
I might be able to tell you exactly what you
> I am just trying to figure what to do with them
Well, you can sell some to me. I really like
the little critters, and I'd love to get some
diversity, as all mine are descendants of a
small batch managed by Susanne Batra back when
she worked at the USDA. I hate having only
one type of solitary bee, but haven't had much
luck attracting anything except wasps to tubes
set out to tempt "local native bees".
> My question is if the bee colony was located
> inside the greenhouse, would there be a problem
> if the were confined inside due to a cold
Around here, bees start hatching out of their
tubes and are off and running in fairly good
sync with the earliest fruit tree blooms.
I have some old-fashioned apple varieties that
bloom later, so I keep a few dozen tubes in the
fridge to insure that they don't hatch out so
soon. (The problem with the fridge is dessication
and dehydration, so you have to keep the humidity
level up with a misting rig on a timer, thus
a normal kitchen fridge just won't do.)
> Are mason or Hornfaced any good?
I like 'em, but they are really nothing more
than "cheap insurance" to me, as they are
willing to fly when weather grounds honeybees.
To test if they'd do in a greenhouse, here's what
I'd do. I'd deploy a set of 4 filled tubes, and
provide perhaps 30-40 empties. I'd mark each tube
being used by a female once they get working, and
watch the round-trip time of each sortie. (Also,
the total number of different tubes being visited
in any one day is your total number of females
working, something else to track.)
If the round-trip times are 15 mins or less,
you have non-confused bees, operating normally.
If the round-trip times are longer, you likely have very confused bees.
If you are seeing fewer "active" tubes each day,
you are losing females. You can also do a
nighttime "head count" - just shine a penlight
into each tube in the cluster, and count the
number of bee faces staring back at you.
Yes, you can mark these bees, but they are tiny
fragile creatures, so I just mark tubes.
01-13-2006, 06:53 PM
I keep Blue Orchard Bees which are native here. And I have dabbled, unsuccesfully, with Bumble Bees as well.
Although the variety of wild bees has decreased since my childhood, there are still plenty of wild bees in this area. And I find them very fascinating. For me, they are the last real wildlife in the area. And according to state law a permit is needed to hunt them;>)
Here's a great web site to start with:
I had lots of government links, but they have been moved or?
[ January 13, 2006, 07:55 PM: Message edited by: B Wrangler ]
01-17-2006, 06:24 PM
Just picked up this book on the Blue Orchard Bee.
Does anyone know where to purchase BOBs aclimated to the NEast?
How about parafin coated straws of the proper size?
[ January 17, 2006, 07:55 PM: Message edited by: Jack Grimshaw ]