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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    727

    Default A few leafcutter coccoons

    I got around to cleaning out my nesting blocks and was surprised at 90% losses this year. Actually I wasn't too surprised as I did a few things differently and the neighbors pivoting irrigation system drenched my nesting blocks for half the summer. 90% losses is staggering but lessons were learned and certain things won't happen again Anyway heres 2 pics of some leafcutter cocoons that I removed and then cleaned. The yellow ones were made with the petals of bindweed on the outside and haygrazer (corn-like plant) on the inside. The yellow is always a striking contrast to the greens and browns that are usually present in cocoons and it reminds me spring/summer isn't too far away.

    Cocoons that were removed:

    http://s1105.photobucket.com/albums/...t=DSC00157.jpg

    Cleaned and separated cocoons:

    http://s1105.photobucket.com/albums/...t=DSC00158.jpg

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

    Default Re: A few leafcutter coccoons

    R, really wonderful pictures! I wish I had some leafcutters in my boxes too, but only saw one or two in the tubes this year. I still hope to get luckier with them- they are so pretty!
    I can only imagine the neighbor's lawn irrigation must have done high damage for you this year. Good luck next Spring!
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Beauvais, France
    Posts
    36

    Default Re: A few leafcutter coccoons

    Hello Rwurster (and Omie)
    I have no direct experiences of leafcutters and their management, so I'd like to hear a bit more (if you don't the interrogation):
    1. You imply that humidity may be the reason for the losses - were the leaf casings mouldy or damp?
    2. You alluded to the fact that you did a few things differently - what things were different?
    3. These tunnels were they paper-straw/liners, from reeds or from a tray system?
    4. Were the tunnels you found the leaf cutters in clean, sterile and empty at the start of the 2011 season?
    5. Do you do anything different with your tunnels to attract leafcutters? For example tunnel diameters or depths, or planting?


    Thanks in advance for your answers.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    727

    Default Re: A few leafcutter coccoons

    The neighbor added a nozzle to the end of his pivoting irrigation system which throws 10 gallons/sec and adds 30 feet to the range at which he can irrigate. It completely soaked my nesting blocks, and although i always tilt them a hair downwards the water absolutely permeated my blocks and destroyed the cocoons. So I moved my blocks onto the top of rail road ties we have at the ends of our fields ( 4 ft off the ground ) and they were subsequently attacked by wood loving ants (who also took up residence in them). My blocks are 7 pieces of wood, 12" deep, with eight 3/8" dados run the length of them and then stacked to give me 56 nesting holes per block. I made 12 new blocks this year and I had 12 similiar blocks from years past that i wash and scrub in bleach after every season before I press them back into service. Ill add that I do make 1 tunnel at the end of each board a different diameter i.e. a 1/2" dado on one side and a 1/4" dado on the other with 3/8" dado in the middle (works well for blue orchard bees too). Scorching the front of your blocks with a torch helps to attract them because it gives a 3D effect which they like. I typically do an X across the front and put a dot to the left and one at the top, this helps greatly with their orientation on the tunnel they are using. As far as planting, I put my blocks at the edge of any of the alfalfa fields that are on or next to our farm.

    The biggest mistake I made was not checking the blocks once a week. The water and the ants devastated all my bees for the year and I only had time to get cocoons for maybe a month. The other mistake I made was not putting up a sun shade when I moved the blocks on top of barrels, the blocks got so hot that the bees only used the very bottom tunnels to nest in. I usually put firewood around the blocks to help attract the bees but I had pretty much given up on getting many cocoons by the end of the season so I didnt follow up on that aspect. If you have phragmites austalis (sp) reeds in your area I would highly suggest using those for nesting tubes as mason bees and leafcutter bees absolutely love to nest in them. Also cut them at differing lengths for a 3D effect and plug the rear ends of them (i use mud). You can let the masons nest first, then let the leafcutters nest after them. So there's no need to pull your blocks early.

    I do keep a 2 acre swath at the end of our property that I let go back to a natural habitat so there is a place for squash bees to nest. Some years there are so many holes in the ground it looks like someone aerated that patch of ground lol. Anyway I hope my limited experience helped a bit, I've only managed native bees for 3 years now and honey bees for one year.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,758

    Default Re: A few leafcutter coccoons

    I wish you could adopt the leafcutters that pruned two bareroot apple trees I planted this spring...
    Last edited by BeeCurious; 12-13-2011 at 08:53 PM.
    BeeCurious
    5 hives and 8 nucs................... Trying to think inside the box...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    727

    Default Re: A few leafcutter coccoons

    haha, you should see what they do to my rose bushes

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Beauvais, France
    Posts
    36

    Default Re: A few leafcutter coccoons

    Thanks for your responses Rwurster - it's given me a better idea of how they can be managed.

    I had a surprise attack of parasitic wasps in my third/fourth year on my Osmies having left my straws and reeds out too long (August), so having looked at you photos, I had been curious as to whether it could have been that problem rather than humidity.

    As I note that these bees are European in origin - so non-native to your region - did you begin with starter leaf capsules or did you just put the blocks out to see what would arrive?

    Again, thanks in advance for your responses.

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