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My mason bees this year are a flop, only about 3,4 tubes filled. Then recently I'm finding more and more tubes filled with mud. BUT I'm also seeing large wasps visiting the empty tubes. One was a Potter Wasp. The other looks like a Dauber as it was carrying a small Katydid.

Problem is, all my online research states these wasps don't make homes in the Mason Bee tubes... Or do they? I'm wondering if the mud filled tubes are i already have are actually duaber wasp tubes!

Anyway probs no real way to tell but I thought I'd ask.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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I am just getting my feet wet with mason bees. Isnt there a point where you can open the tubes and remove the cocoons? That would let you know real quick. Also, how large of a tube are you using. I think 5/16" is supposed to keep most wasps out. Again, just starting out. Way more questions than answers.

I moved this thread to the Alternative Pollinators forum. You may get a better response to your question here.
 

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If mason bees don’t use mud, then they are wasps. If you don’t want wasps then destroy their nests. Why not cultivate wasps? They are great pest predators.
Is the mason bee thing real or a Costco gimmick? Never heard of them before the bee tubes were marketed. Sorry for butting in with my ignorance but was wondering about this.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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For an interesting read and to gain some insight into the pollinating bee world, go to:
https://honeybeesuite.com/whos-that...mpaign=news_from_the_hive&utm_term=2019-07-14

Rusty has brief descriptions along with pictures of several of the common bees, including the genus Osmia ( orchard or mason bees).

That these bees nest in tubes and that the tubes can be refrigerated, makes these bees especially suited to the pollination of certain crops. Like most bees, their lifespan is short. After laying their eggs in hollow stems or tubes, the mason bee dies. You won't see her again for another 10 months.
 

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This is my 3 rd year of ‘backyard mason bee keeping’. They pollinate my small apple tree, which is ignored by my honey bees who have bigger fish to fry. A couple of weeks after the last nesting tube is sealed, I put the tubes in a mesh bag to prevent parasitic insects entering, and put the bag in our unheated garage.

Sometime in early spring, I open the bag, tear the tubes open to take out cocoons and store them in the fridge (until the apple begins to bloom). At that time, I may find wasp-like creatures trapped in the mesh bag, and/or white larvae in the tubes where mason bee cocoons should be. I think they are some kind of cuckoo bees.

Well, I did not really answer the OP’s question.

Keeping mason bees may not be as exciting as honey bee keeping but it has its own appeal.
 

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I keep Mason bees. The wasps you see are likely parasitic. They will carefully visit each filled tube and then drill into it somewhere near where they sense a mason bee developing. Once they drill into it, they will deposit eggs which will ultimately develop into a larvae that subsequently consumes the Mason bee host. A wasp then emerges in the spring. I replace my tubes (or roll of wax paper) every 2 or three years to cut down on the mites. If I harvest mason bee cocoons in the fall, I rinse them in water, roll them vigorously across old metal screening to dislodge as many remaining mites as I can and then store them in the fridge with some moist paper towel or newspaper for the winter. They go out in the spring a little before the apples bloom. Timing is important. I put the cocoons back very close to the area that the mason bees laid her eggs in the tubes. Masons prefer nesting near the original spot where they emerged.

To help prevent parasitic wasp trouble, you can either harvest the cocoons and sort them out or, if you plan on leaving them to overwinter, simply staple window screening across the face of whatever you used to stack your tubes or across the face of your drilled block. Do this after the tubes are filled. Don't wait too long in the season. Masons are a spring and early summer thing. The screening will prevent most of the wasp problem while leaving your tubes in a natural environment. In practice, I've found that with tubes carefully stacked, you don't lose too many Masons to wasps. It's the mites that will hurt them over the long run.

Masons are unbelievably efficient pollinators. I've read some articles that favorably compare a handful of Mason bees to an entire colony of honey bees. Not sure how true it is but I found it interesting. I put some Mason cocoons out in a little bee house for my grandson a couple of years ago and the experience nearly eliminated his fear of bees and he learned about Leafcutters as well since they often share tube colonies.

Hope this helps!
 
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