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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Forsyth County, NC, USA
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    Default Orchard Mason Bees from central NC

    New here today. Just joined up since this is one of the more active sites that pertains to Orchard Mason bees, Bumble bees and other solitary pollinators.

    I have been hanging nests for about 3 - 4 years now and have been getting good block fills and very little in the way of parasites.

    I would like to expand into Leaf cutter and Bumble Bee Nests. The Orchard Bees do a great job on my spring garden and blueberry bushes, so I'm looking to round out my pollinator stocks. Although, I got lucky last year and a BeeKeeper landed 3 hives next door to me. Will have to see if his hives will make it around here.

    Here is a link to my Photobucket album of the nesting blocks and hatching chambers that I use.

    http://s164.photobucket.com/albums/u...0Bee%20Blocks/

    I have a few questions, but I will start them in another thread.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Beauvais, France
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    36

    Default Re: Orchard Mason Bees from central NC

    Hello Gyozu
    What sort of numbers did yo have in the last four years? Did you start by putting out 'traps' or with purchased cocoons? ... and what species do you have?
    Cheers,
    Paul.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2012
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    Forsyth County, NC, USA
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    Default Re: Orchard Mason Bees from central NC

    Quote Originally Posted by solitaryb View Post
    Hello Gyozu
    What sort of numbers did yo have in the last four years? Did you start by putting out 'traps' or with purchased cocoons? ... and what species do you have?
    Cheers,
    Paul.
    They are all locals as far as i know. I have not purchased any.
    I started by putting out one block with 24 holes and lined with handrolled parchment paper tubes. I believe I got about 10 filled tubes. Next year all 24 were filled. I went to two blocks for the 3rd year and I filled about 40-45 tubes that year. For 2011 I hung blocks with a total of 167 tubes and got about 160 filled with a couple of partials. I average about 9 cocoons per tube. I think the unfilled were due to the paper tubes krinkling and were not suitable for the bees.
    They seem to be the run of the mill "Blue" orchard variety, but I have not trapped any to confirm.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Arcata, CA, USA
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    2

    Default Re: Orchard Mason Bees from central NC

    Gyozu - nice photos!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Beauvais, France
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    Default Re: Orchard Mason Bees from central NC

    Quote Originally Posted by Gyozu View Post
    They are all locals as far as i know. I have not purchased any.
    I started by putting out one block with 24 holes and lined with handrolled parchment paper tubes. I believe I got about 10 filled tubes. Next year all 24 were filled. I went to two blocks for the 3rd year and I filled about 40-45 tubes that year. For 2011 I hung blocks with a total of 167 tubes and got about 160 filled with a couple of partials. I average about 9 cocoons per tube. I think the unfilled were due to the paper tubes krinkling and were not suitable for the bees.
    They seem to be the run of the mill "Blue" orchard variety, but I have not trapped any to confirm.
    Glad to hear you chose the 'let them come' philosophy. I have been at it about 6 years and its only recently - possibly due to the safety in numbers - that I am starting to suspect that a third unidentified species is using my tunnels (I am also using Japanese knotweed, teasel and umbellifer stems that I find) as well as a cuckoo bee species. I have Osmia cornuta (c.85%) and O. rufa for most of the rest.
    So are you opening and cleaning all the tubes, or just mostly counting the sealed tunnels?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Beauvais, France
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    Default Re: Orchard Mason Bees from central NC

    Hello Ethnobeeology - welcome to the forum.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,778

    Default Re: Orchard Mason Bees from central NC

    A picture is worth 1000 words - and your pics are gorgeous!

    I bought an untreated 4x4 but haven't hung a block yet. I had blue mason bees in my wildflowers last year, so they are nesting around here somewhere. My elm tree is suspicious, the east side has woodpecker holes about the right diameter, about 8 foot up. Where did you order the parchment tubes? Or can they just be ordinary paper?
    Time to be a gypsy again, 2014 will be my prep year, my bees want a better area with actual rainfall.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Forsyth County, NC, USA
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    Default Re: Orchard Mason Bees from central NC

    Quote Originally Posted by solitaryb View Post
    Glad to hear you chose the 'let them come' philosophy. I have been at it about 6 years and its only recently - possibly due to the safety in numbers - that I am starting to suspect that a third unidentified species is using my tunnels (I am also using Japanese knotweed, teasel and umbellifer stems that I find) as well as a cuckoo bee species. I have Osmia cornuta (c.85%) and O. rufa for most of the rest.
    So are you opening and cleaning all the tubes, or just mostly counting the sealed tunnels?
    I open all the tubes and inspect the cocoons for damage and parasites. I have been leaving any cocoons that are different, but move them to a separate hatching chamber. I brush out all the block holes with a small test tube brush and reload with a fresh parchment paper tube. I wait a week or so before attaching the back. Last year I put a wrap of black electrical tape around the back cover seam to stop parasite entry. I will see how this works. This year I want to try scorching the front of the blocks and wire brushing them. This would be for better gripping surface a better visual look for bees. Also though about some sort of pattern marking for bees to locate their tubes. I see a lot of crawling in an out and checking of holes. Could they be searching for their tube?


    My main concern right now is the warmish weather we have been having lately. High 50's and flirting with 60 during the day. Bee blocks are in the shade on north side of building. Not sure if I should pull tubes and move them to a mini/dorm size fridge.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Forsyth County, NC, USA
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    Default Re: Orchard Mason Bees from central NC

    Quote Originally Posted by Gypsi View Post
    A picture is worth 1000 words - and your pics are gorgeous!
    Where did you order the parchment tubes? Or can they just be ordinary paper?

    Glad Everyone enjoys the photos. They are handy.

    I just got a roll of parchment paper from the grocery store. Figured out how much paper I needed to cut to fold over in the back and, when wound up, left the proper diameter lined hole. I cut a bunch of sheets and wind them around a small round chainsaw file. Then insert in hole and let it unwind. Then I sort of use the file to wind the paper in the other direction to help tighten it up against the block. Finally, I store them outside in a covered area to acclimate to the outside moisture content. I found that if I put the backs on and locked down the tubes right away that they would swell/move and wrinkle up. The bees don't like them. I find it is a good project for evening TV watching. Right now I have the time. If I get much larger I will have to think about a commercial source of tubes. Not sure of the time vs money aspect right now.

    I also tried using paper from a grocery bag. I was not as happy with it. If I recall correctly, they were hard to remove from my blocks due to the friction between the rough paper and the inner wood surface of the hole and I was worried about damaging the cocoons. I did not notice a preference for either the parchment or the brown paper since all those tubes were filled. However, I did not do anything remotely resembling a scientific inquiry.

    So basically: Hang Bee Blocks - Let bees fill blocks- ******* - Profit!

    This year I am thinking about building one of the nests that have grooved boards and make it very deep. 12" deep instead of my current 6". Read a paper somewhere that this would increase the # of Females and total # bees. Worth a try. I have several offers of places to land more bee blocks. Need to get started, but it is cold in the shop.
    Last edited by Gyozu; 01-19-2012 at 08:57 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Arcata, CA, USA
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    2

    Default Re: Orchard Mason Bees from central NC

    Great sharing going on concerning native bee nests like the ones you are facilitating! I like the wild plants (teasel etc!).
    last spring was my first attempt making nesting houses - of redwood - but no straws.... best wishes - I will use paper/straws in the future - thanks!

    See here Native Bee Nesting Network: https://www.facebook.com/NBNSproject Also see here for the Campaign for Solitary Bees: https://www.facebook.com/Solitary.bees They have a youtube channel with great videos http://www.youtube.com/user/solitarybee plus a nice blog here http://solitarybee.com/blog/

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Beauvais, France
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    Default Re: Orchard Mason Bees from central NC

    Quote Originally Posted by Gyozu View Post
    Also thought about some sort of pattern marking for bees to locate their tubes. I see a lot of crawling in an out and checking of holes. Could they be searching for their tube?

    My main concern right now is the warmish weather we have been having lately. High 50's and flirting with 60 during the day. Bee blocks are in the shade on north side of building. Not sure if I should pull tubes and move them to a mini/dorm size fridge.
    When I have seen a lot of apparently obsessive crawling in and out and turning around in paper-lined tunnels, it has often been because the paper has curled inwards just inside the entrance and the bee moves on kind of 'irritated'. If they decide that it's not too much bother then they may cut the paper with their mandibles I caught a moment on camera that shows how much time trimming paper-liner curls can take up

    I take your point that giving them visual cues to where their tunnel is can help - I have put non-toxic food coloring on some of the wooden structures I am using this year... and I am also moving towards the tray system now that I have over a thousand bees. It has started to take a very long time to prepare and inspect and refill paper-liners on nine blocks.

    In respect of judging temperatures, the key thing is that the bees don't burn up their fat reserves coming out early. Fridges are an option but Dave @crownbees warned me to watch out for the dehydrating aspect of modern fridges - the bees still need a certain level of humidity.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Beauvais, France
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    Default Re: Orchard Mason Bees from central NC

    Quote Originally Posted by Ethnobeeology View Post
    Re:Campaign for Solitary Bees links, etc..
    Thanks

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Columbia county, New York, USA
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    Default Re: Orchard Mason Bees from central NC

    Great photos Gyozu! Thanks for posting them.
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Forsyth County, NC, USA
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    Default Re: Orchard Mason Bees from central NC

    Glad you enjoyed the photos.

    Around mid to late April my original 6 blocks were 98% full. Made 2 grooved tray blocks that were about 11-12" long and had 30 tubes in each and placed 1 in the bucket I use to hold the hatching boxes.

    Took it down day before yesterday and 18 out of the 30 were totally full and several of the others were partically filled. I used parchment paper for seperation layers and clamped the trays together with threaded rod. Clamping stopped any warping problems. I made them out of pine boards I salvaged from a packing crate. I'll post pictures when I get a chance. Really not much to see.

    I will be interested to see what the tubes and cocoons look like when I open it up. See if it really saves me any time.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Columbia county, New York, USA
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    Default Re: Orchard Mason Bees from central NC

    I am having to put up a lot of additionall tubes this Spring as well. lots of bees!
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

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