A Osmia lignaria story
I put up two Blue Orchard Bees boxes this year but I've not seen any activity in them yet. I'll also be a first time honey bee keepers in a few days. I'm using some homemade top bars hives for this.
Anyway, I went out to the two top bar hives today to do some final preps before the honey bees get here and I find a BOB (well, I assume its a BOB) in one. It was sitting on the bottom screen very lethargic. We had a major cold snap here the last couple of days, down in the low 30s, which may explain the behavior. Then I open up the other hive, and there is one in there too! I thought this was very strange. I don't know if they were trapped in there or what. Or if something attracted them? I did dip these hives in copper naphthenate, which I now regret, but that was over three weeks ago. I hope it was just the cold affecting them.
I took them in the garage to get a good look at them and take some pictures. I noticed under a 10x loupe that they are both covered in mites. I assume Krombein's Hairy-Footed Mite, Chaetodactylus krombeini as they have very large legs and claws.
In the warmth of the garage, one came around and started crawling around, the other is barely moving a leg. It's supposed to get warmer here tomorrow so I'll release the one, the other will go in the insect collection. Maybe I can show it my nice BOB box and it will lay some eggs in there. At least I know they are around.
Does any of this sound crazy to anyone else?
Here's a pic of the bee and mites through the loupe. Most are in between the thorax and abdomen. http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2405/...e3920fb5_b.jpg
I found two more in my screened-in back porch. One was long dead, but the other was on the screen. I scooped it up and took it to the nest block. It crawled right in a hole. Are these adults at the end of their life cycle at this time of year?
I just don't recall seeing any of these bees before this year and I'm a bit of an amateur entomologist so I pay attention to insects. I'm sure they were there but it's like hunting morels. You don't see any until you find that first one and your mind is imprinted. Then they appear everywhere!
Chris, That's a great photo. How did you get it?
My digital camera has a nice "super macro" mode on it plus I handheld a 10x triplet loupe (like this one) in front of it. It took a lot of shots to get the focus just right. The subject was very cooperative as it was very cold and nearly dead.
That's pretty clever. I wonder if a ring stand could be used to hold the magnifying lense and the camera. Could be adjusted to get a sharp focus.