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

    Default My 3rd year for mason bees - 2012

    My husband made a new nesting box for our expanding solitary/native/mason bee population. This box holds a total of over 400 nesting straws, in 6 large cans. I found that large pineapple juice cans are just the right size for the nesting straws. This one box actually holds more nesting straws than all three of my previous nesting boxes from last year combined, yet it's much easier to maintain and clean.

    new-box-March-2012_2.jpg

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-sjR0hl6DAr...rch-2012_2.jpg

    new-box-March-2012.jpg

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-K7kAMUzGVm...March-2012.jpg

    The chicken wire front keeps out woodpecker and squirrel predators. We can make a second identical box if need be, and hang it directly below this one. A second box may not be necessary this year. I anticipate that my immediate neighborhood would likely not support more mason bees than two of these boxes could possibly house- there is a limit to the local food/pollen supply after all. Honeybees can travel several miles for forage, but little solitary bees only forage a few hundred yards from their home base, thus their population is self-limiting based on the food supply in any given area.
    In a few days I'll be putting the chilled dormant cocoons from last year out to emerge right next to this new nesting box. I'm just waiting until a few more flowers are blooming. It's a very early Spring here, but the fruit trees are still not flowering. Right now my 2011 cocoons containing new adult bees are still sleeping safely in my refrigerator veggie crisper drawer. It's almost time for emergence!
    But there are mason bees out there already- a couple of days ago I was planting pea and spinach seed in my vegetable garden, and several male mason bees kept landing on my periwinkle blue skirt, apparently mistaking me for a giant morning glory. They were either horn-faced or blue orchard males. They were so sweet, but I felt a little sorry for them since not much is blooming yet. Obviously they were local wild bees who had emerged a bit early due to the unusually warm weather. It's quite possible that some of those bees will find this box and start using it before my refrigerated bees are put out to emerge and mate. Some of the straws have paper liners that carry the scent of last year's nesting activities, and that's a powerful lure to any nearby mason bees looking for nesting sites.


    I really look forward to seeing this new elegant box bustle with nesting bees!
    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 3rd year for mason bees - 2012

    I still have my mason bee cocoons tucked in my fridge drawer. Despite our weird early Spring, only the daffodils and forsythia has been blooming so far, and I haven't wanted to 'unleash' 400 hungry bees on my little neighborhood until i see the fruit trees begin to bloom. Now my plum tree is close to start blooming finally, but the crab apple is still closed up tight, and we have a couple nights below freezing now coming up. I am going to wait it out a few more days before I put them out, so they don't have to go through a freeze- tomorrow night is supposed to go down to 18F. Later this week looks much better to put out the cocoons. Meanwhile, I'm not seeing any wild masons investigating my new nesting box, despite the fact that some of the straws have nesting scent on them. Maybe the ferals that emerged too early this year couldn't find enough food and died off?
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,310

    Default Re: My 3rd year for mason bees - 2012

    I've noticed a lot of Mason bees around here. The Carpenter bees are a plenty as well.
    Regards, Barry

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Newton, New jersey, USA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: My 3rd year for mason bees - 2012

    We have masons that made a home in the trim of the house. our plum tree has blossoms as well as the forsythias, daffodils and hyacinths. We have been having some warm and cold days. Hope the bees are ok

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