Results 1 to 11 of 11
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Calgary, Alberta, CA
    Posts
    106

    Default The nebulous benefit of garden pollination by mason bees

    I keep hearing how folks need mason bees to "Pollinate their gardens".

    Given the multiplicity of influencing factors, limiting factors, and the difficulty in tracking outcomes,
    how does one know there is a benefit, or even what that benefit looks like?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Mogollon Rim, Arizona 85933
    Posts
    463

    Default Re: The nebulous benefit of garden pollination by mason bees

    increased fruit production on your trees from previous years.
    They work in Oregon insanely good on our peach apple, cherry, plum trees
    Masons are best for fruit orchards

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Calgary, Alberta, CA
    Posts
    106

    Default Re: The nebulous benefit of garden pollination by mason bees

    In an orchard situation, inputs are tracked, and outputs are measured, and benefit can be determined.

    Gardens are much more ad-hoc. How can one know if there is benefit?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Manassas, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    2,387

    Default Re: The nebulous benefit of garden pollination by mason bees

    Masons take a while to get established, but they are pretty much immune to varroa mites. They have one brood cycle a year and that doesn't fit the varroa lifestyle.

    Masons are short-range bees. A modest garden is about the right size for their foraging range. They are active for a very short time in spring.

    Altogether, they're a good choice for someone with a garden and a few fruit trees, who does not want to have the year-round issues with honeybees, who does not want to harvest honey, but just wants some bees in the garden.

    Gardens only NEED pollinators if you are trying to make plants set seed (which includes bearing fruit). But if you are, the results of adding pollinators should be quantifiable. Some plants don't need pollinators. Some can get by without them but are more productive with them, and some absolutely depend on them. What results to expect depend on what you are growing and what you expect to produce.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    West Jordan, UT, USA
    Posts
    472

    Default Re: The nebulous benefit of garden pollination by mason bees

    Mason bees are prolific pollinators, within their short, early mating and nesting season. Beyond that, no. They are great for pollinating early fruit trees. That's perhaps why they are also called "Orchard Bees".

    Summer garden crops are served by leaf cutters, honey bees, bumble bees and various other bug critters. By the time your garden crops are blooming, this season's mason bees have completed their nests and have died. Next season's mason bees are developing in the nests, and will wait their turn next spring.

    Nebulous mason bees? no.
    But there are many other native pollinators. As a group, they might be considered of nebulous value in a garden

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Kaysville, UT
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: The nebulous benefit of garden pollination by mason bees

    What you "keep hearing" are nebulous words that need better clarity.

    First and foremost, "mason bees" does not define any specific bee species, and is in fact a nebulous term used as a catch-all to define the many tunnel-nesting solitary bees that use mud in their nesting. This mud is the primary substrate used to partition each egg chamber, thus the term "mason" is used. The general public and some within the "mason bee" industry tend to prefer using the phrase to define one bee species only, which come from the Genus "Osmia" and the species "lignaria". Therefore, generally speaking, "mason bees" are generally assumed to be "Osmia lignaria". Can you blame the public? Bee taxonomy can be hard to spell, and hard to remember—but it is absolutely necessary for increased understanding. There are literally HUNDREDS of solitary bee species on earth that use mud as the primary substrate to partition egg chambers, therefore the term "mason bee" is frightfully nebulous.

    The second nebulous word that needs to be clarified is "garden"—what kind of garden? The better question is what crop/plant are you trying to pollinate? The Osmia lignaria species live for about 14 months. For 12–13 of those months, the species resides within it's own mud-enclosed chamber, awaiting a certain temperature that happens to coincide with the bloom of only some crops useful to man. Therefore, this species typically emerges between mid March and late April. Of course temperatures vary depending on location, and man is often involved in temperature manipulation. That being said, the species can emerge far before March, and far after April—depending on the desired crop. Upon emergence from its chambers, the female Osmia lignaria tends to be the more sought-after and aggressive pollinator, flying and pollinating for a 4–6 week period. If you're trying to pollinate tomatoes, onions, or cantaloupe, don't assume Osmia lignaria will solve your pollination woes. My condolences to those who have purchased mason bees with such a pursuit. Not only might your timing be off, but your plant variety and bee species could be incorrectly matched. If you're trying to pollinate cherries or apples, however, then Osmia lignaria can be a great pollinator—but I would still suggest using honeybees as a failsafe, especially if you're a solitary bee beginner.

    Initially when I began capturing and using Osmia lignaria and using the species for pollination, I thought it was the single "solve all" species—but after much collaboration with USDA scientists and research, my knowledge and experience has proven otherwise. Osmia lignaria does at times match Apis mellifera in certain circumstances, but research shows that using a VARIETY of pollinators on crops is the best decision. I suggest a dose of generalist pollinators AND specialist pollinators on your crops. Such research should be of great import to the entomophilous crop grower. The link below reveals some fabulous research on the topic.
    http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.o.../1754/20122767

    Sincerely,

    Kimball Clark
    NativeBees[DOT]com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Manassas, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    2,387

    Default Re: The nebulous benefit of garden pollination by mason bees

    I would add to this, there are a lot of native solitary bees, and they are not all masons. A fair number are called "miner" bees because they nest underground in tunnels. We tend not to notice them but we should. Some of them are highly specialized for particular native plants. But all bees are pollen-gatherers and are valuable pollinators. Gathering pollen is what sets them apart from wasps.

    Take the time to notice what thrives in your area.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Kaysville, UT
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: The nebulous benefit of garden pollination by mason bees

    Phoebee's comment to "Take the time to notice what thrives in your area" is EXCELLENT advice. Ground-nesting bees are the most abundant of bees in the world, and the attempts to manage them are scant. The trick is learning the predilections of a bee species, managing it, and then using it successfully as the primary pollinator within that bias.

    ~ Kimball Clark

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Manassas, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    2,387

    Default Re: The nebulous benefit of garden pollination by mason bees

    Question: why does this bee have a mustache?

    Moustache.jpg

    Answer: It is a male bee. Many of the solitary bee species drones have mustaches. Females often have very prominent mandibles, particularly leaf-cutters.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Clackamas Oregon
    Posts
    1,112

    Default Re: The nebulous benefit of garden pollination by mason bees

    Thanks Kimball, that is very informative.
    I am in Oregon and in the wet valleys’ it has really become quite the battle cry for the mason bees for the spring tree bloom. A friend of mine had about 20 of the blocks on his house just trying to get pollination. He told me that the bees fly at 40 degrees and in the rain and he felt they were better than the honey bees.
    I told him that his bees were the ‘Delta Force’ that he had 100 of the best flying bees in the roughest conditions but I had the ‘’Chinese army’-weather hits 50 degrees and 40,000 starving bees with babies to feed take to the air. I dropped a couple of hives on his place and oddly enough it is the blueberries that seem to have seen the greatest increase. I thought the Blueberries were mostly pollenated by the bumble bees? Keep in mind that this is an acre garden, not a monoculture.
    “Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up” Alfred Pennyworth Batman Begins (2005)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Manassas, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    2,387

    Default Re: The nebulous benefit of garden pollination by mason bees

    Up in Alaska there is a story circulating that blueberries are pollinated by mosquitoes. I think that's a myth, but evidently tiny little black flies do pollinate blueberries.

    Honeys can do it, but they have to be pretty hungry. They may bolt to easier forage if it is available.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads