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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Columbia county, New York, USA
    Posts
    1,535

    Default My second year for Mason bees- 2011

    Well it's April 8th and my 3 nesting blocks are up and ready with fresh lined tubes.
    I also put up a big can filled with some dried Japanese knotweed reeds i harvested last Fall- those are in all different diameters so it will be interesting to see anyone come to those.

    But my cocoons are still in the fridge. Even though we will have more than 3 days in a row this week of over 50F, there is truly almost nothing blooming yet, no willows or maples or dandelions, not my crab apple tree yet...nothing. Even the honeybees are just barely bringing in any pollen, and they forage several miles out, unlike masons. I strongly feel my bees will not find enough in their forage radius to live on yet, so I'm keeping them chilled a while longer. Another good indication to wait is that there is no activity yet at the nesting blocks from any wild neighborhood mason bees, so I don't think any have emerged yet in the wild. Last night was around 25F.

    I have about 50 tubes of cocoons, but I figure each tube may only have an average of 3 viable bees emerge successfully. I estimate low.
    They are split between eastern blue orchards (Osmia lignaria) and the little brown Osmia taurus, an import from Asia which is now locally abundant.
    I also have 10 cocoons of horn-faced bee from Dave at CrownBees.com.
    Lastly, there is one lonely filled tube from the 'mystery' bee that got filled in a smaller diameter tube later last summer, and plugged with chewed green stuff- I suspect a leaf cutter bee of some sort. I can't wait to see if that one in particular emerges!

    I am using 'emergence boxes' that are the boxes that bank checks arrive in, with a small cut out hole in one end for the bees to get out. I will tie these to the nesting blocks. This is so the bees will emerge and then find the fresh tubes available right there, and not likely be able to find their way back into the check-box to re-nest in the old dirty tubes.

    Now I just need to wait for a few trees or flowers to start blooming so I can set the cocoons out...
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Columbia county, New York, USA
    Posts
    1,535

    Default Re: My second year for Mason bees- 2011

    I set my cocoons out today in the two emergence bankcheck boxes, strapped to the nest boxes.
    Fruit trees not blooming yet, but a few dogwoods and forsythia blooming, daffodils, etc. I figure they'll take a few more days to warm up and start emerging from their cocoons anyway. What a late Spring we are having!
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Columbia county, New York, USA
    Posts
    1,535

    Default Re: My second year for Mason bees- 2011

    Had lots of male solitary bees emerge today! There were many little poops around the holes in the exit boxes (the bees will poop first thing after emerging, before they fly for the first time). The poops told me the bees had come out of the emergance boxes and were not just neighborhood bees coming around.

    I saw some fuzzy brown male Osmia taurus, and quite a few little male Osmia lignaria (blue orchard masons). Both species had nested in my tubes last year. The blue orchard males were easily recognized by their long antennae, blue metallic abdomens, and their very cute little brushy white moustaches!
    I'm hoping my 10 bought cocoons of Osmia cornifrons (hornfaced bee) will hatch out as well- will examine the contents of the emergence boxes in a couple of weeks or so. Females might still be emerging several weeks from now, so I need to give them time.

    I missed having the sweet little solitary bees buzzing about on our kitchen porch- so nice to have them back again! Jim the mailman enjoys stopping to watch them as well, when he comes to deliver our mail to our porch.
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Columbia county, New York, USA
    Posts
    1,535

    Default My horn faced bees are emerging and mating!

    Last winter I got 10 cocoons of horn faced bees (Osmia cornifrons) from Dave at Crownbees.com . Today 7 of the 10 have already hatched and are mating. They look different from my other two species of masons (O.taurus & O.lignaria).
    I got some good photos of one cornifrons couple mating near the nest boxes on my porch this morning. The male was doing some strange gymnastics...see them HERE.
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Bucksport, Maine
    Posts
    177

    Default Re: My horn faced bees are emerging and mating!

    Omie,
    Really nice photos! Did you have any mason bees try to go back in the release box. I came up with a simple solution to prevent it. I just rolled a piece of window screen on a pencil and stuck it in the hole. Then I duct taped it to the box so it wouldn't fall out. The release block is on the left in this video. http://www.vimeo.com/23126028
    Dave - PM me if you are interested in natural beekeeping in Hancock County Maine.
    http://www.davesbees.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: My horn faced bees are emerging and mating!

    Omie, I think those are the best mason bee pictures I've ever seen. Thanks for sharing!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Columbia county, New York, USA
    Posts
    1,535

    Default Re: My horn faced bees are emerging and mating!

    Quote Originally Posted by DavesBees View Post
    Omie,
    Really nice photos! Did you have any mason bees try to go back in the release box. I came up with a simple solution to prevent it. I just rolled a piece of window screen on a pencil and stuck it in the hole. Then I duct taped it to the box so it wouldn't fall out. The release block is on the left in this video.
    Yes Dave, i did have some bees trying to go back in the release boxes (bank check boxes with a 1/2" hole) and nest in the old tubes again. What I did was take the tubes out of the boxes, put a rubber band around them, and put them in a plastic ziploc bag where I made a small 1/4" hole on each end of the bag, near both tube ends. I attached the bag with tubes onto the nesting blocks. This seemed to work, since the bees could exit easily but couldn't figure out how to get back into the plastic bag like they were able to with the box. Everything was in the shade and the weather was nice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleite View Post
    Omie, I think those are the best mason bee pictures I've ever seen. Thanks for sharing!
    Wow, thanks! I liked the pale green porch paint background- that's where the amorous couple was- on my kitchen porch floor.... rather unseemly! lol
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

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