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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    122

    Default Will this work for orchard mason bees?

    If I use bucked up sections of logs, around 18" in length and maybe 12-16" thick- can I simply drill a bunch of holes in the log then place it out in the orchard to attract mason bees?
    Seems they'd be pretty happy with this so long as they aren't concerned with the stump being ground level- not sure if there is a specific height to place it.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Saint John, Indiana
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: Will this work for orchard mason bees?

    I work with all sorts of solitary bees and I have mason bees as well. What seems to work for me is putting out reeds from wild plants with hollow stems. I also have many wooden blocks with different sized holes in them. One thing I'm working on changing is adding liners into the holes in the wood. I was using rolled up parchment paper and using that to line the walls (in the fall you remove these and take out the cocoons) The goal of the liners is to clean out mites and whatnot. Though you can just drill holes and leave it, though most advise the liners for healthier bees. Just make sure you drill the recommended hole diameter; and the hole depth should be as deep as you can make it. What I find also works is drill a bunch of the recommended hole size and then take every drill bit a size smaller and put a few holes of each in it. That way you can cater to smaller bees too (such as leaf cutters, which I also keep) and sometimes the masons like smaller holes surprisingly.

    As for height, I like to keep them elevated a few feet from the ground so I don't get ants and earwigs to move into the holes (which they will). A tree stump would be pretty natural and worth a try, I would like to see the results. Hope this was helpful! You can look a lot of this up on youtube.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    122

    Default Re: Will this work for orchard mason bees?

    Thanks for all the help there!
    I decided to purchase a pre made house with easily cleanable parts, probably the best bet for me.
    Will likely drill wood in the future once I get more knowledgeable and know what to look out for with these bees.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Beauvais, France
    Posts
    36

    Default Re: Will this work for orchard mason bees?

    I wrote a recent reply to a similar question about drilling logs for mason bees that someone asked me, on my blog. It may give you a few more pointers.

    The big question is whether you want a long or short-term population to establish itself. Many people drill up small wood blocks (as I indeed did myself at the start) and then found that the bee population stagnated after the 2nd season due to the build up of parasites.

    For the last 4 seasons I have examined every single nested tunnel I have had, counting the cocoons and recording the sort of cell incident that occurs whilst eliminating the parasites (mites, flies, beetles or chalcid wasps). Despite my cleaning away the parasites, I note that at best (with natural reeds like Japanese knotweed), that no more than 45% of tunnels are totally full of cocoons and clear of unsuccessful cells (dead larvae or parasites).

    In nature, there's always a background (wild ambient population) of parasites and larval deaths and their presence can make cells impossible to pass through for the bees behind them, resulting them never getting out. Worse still, as the females are at the back of the tunnels they take the worst hit.

    So the moral of the story is if you want to optimally encourage a healthy and increasing population of mason bees, offer them only tunnels that you can access off-season to clear out the obstacles. If not you are just creating a future bee cemetery and in 2014 you'll find yourself staring at the blocked nesting plugs and wondering why they haven't emerged.

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