Blueberries and Pollination in the South

blueboy1977(TX9A/B)February 16, 2013

For some reason this year Im not seeing hardly any bees on my SHB. Last year was the complete opposite, bees everywhere in Feb! I know its been a much cooler Feb than last year and Im sure that has a lot to do with it. I know SHB are self fertile but at the same time I want bigger berries and more of them so cross pollination is a must. After some research I came across Mason Bees. Does anyone have any experience with these bees particularly for blueberries in the south. Ive looked for articles about Mason Bees in the Houston area but theres not much info online about it. Atleast not for Gulf Coast states. Any info would be appreciated.

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Bradybb(wa8)

blueboy,
They seem to be getting more popular in my area.A coworker gave me an email address of a place nearby.He told me they give free Mason Bee houses and the bee larva to some people and then come and collect it later for study.I may try it this year.
I'll give their info.Maybe they could point to some place in your area. Brady

Here is a link that might be useful: Crown Bees (Mason Bees)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 8:29PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Blueboy,

Here especially at the start of the season all we had pollinating were skippers. Now the small bumblebees are out in droves.....they have a white mark on the face but not sure if those are mason bees. The honey bees were on them for a week or so but as soon as the citrus start blooming they couldn't care less about the blueberries.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 10:08PM
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blueboy1977(TX9A/B)

Brady, i actually came across there site last night when searching the web. When I order some it will probably be from them. They have some good info on there. I need to get a few houses assembled for them before I order them. Im hoping we have some here locally that will take up residence. We will see?

Bam, what are skippers? The first week of Feb I had a few honey bees working and saw one huge bumble bee but since this cool front I havent seen any. I have seen a couple honey bees on my peach tree and my neighbor as several peach trees so i assume they are all next door. Usually when the rabbiteyes start blooming I have plenty of honey bees working them. The problem is with my SHB this season. Blooming so early in the season and competeing with peaches and citrus is gona take its toll this season I think.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 10:33PM
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ericwi

Here in Madison, Wisconsin, it is the bumblebees that show up early and pollinate our blueberry shrubs. Typically the weather will be in the mid 60's, & I don't see the honeybees until it warms up to the 70's. I am finding that there are enough native bees to pollinate the blueberries, and that it seems to help if I maintain the lawn & yard without using any herbicide or insecticide, so I guess you could say we have an organic lawn, if there is such a thing. We have a small prairie restoration, both flowers & grasses, so there is something for the bees to visit through the entire summer.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 12:44AM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

A species of digger bee called the southeastern blueberry bee specializes on blueberry plants in its pollen-collecting. It is more efficient at pollinating these plants than honey bees or bumble bees.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Bee's you I need

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 8:19AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Blue,

Skippers are a small butterfly. At any given moment there are 100's of them in the blueberry beds.

No digger bees here, least not working my BB.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 8:46AM
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ericwi

gator rider2, thanks for the reference to "southeastern blueberry bee". I looked this up on Google, and found a page with photos of "digger bees," another term for this family of bees. And there it was, the black/white banded bee that I have seen now & then in our yard, and I was not able to identify. I don't see them in the blueberry flowers, so far, I am seeing mostly bumblebees. I think this is because the weather is still pretty cool when the blueberries flower, and the bumblebees seem able to get out and work in cool temps. But I will keep an eye out for digger bees, now that I know what they are.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 11:09AM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

ericwi

If you Google Images of southern Digger Blueberry Bee you find range map this Bee not to be in Wisconsin.

Hopefully Link below show range map

Here is a link that might be useful: Blueberry Bee

This post was edited by gator_rider2 on Sun, Feb 17, 13 at 12:27

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 12:19PM
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ericwi

Thanks for the range map, gator rider. It seems that the term "digger bee" is not so well defined, and might include various species that not everyone would agree belong. I have seen a bee in our yard, with alternate black/white bands, and a photo of a similar bee came up when I googled "digger bees." I was able to find a good photo of the bee I have seen, taken in Cross Plains, Wisconsin, in 2006. Cross Plains is about 10 miles west of Madison, WI. This bee is identified as Andrena hirticincta. I have never seen this bee in our blueberry shrubs, I have only seen it in our yard in high summer. I am not saying that this is the same bee you describe as "southern Digger Blueberry Bee." Perhaps they are somewhat similar.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 3:52PM
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blueboy1977(TX9A/B)

Thanks for the map Gator, looks like I should have a native population of Blueberry Bees around my area. I have yet to see one, maybe I need to spend more time out there staring at my plants! Thats always a good thing.This whole bee thing is pretty cool when you get to researching it. I have a feeling I will be overkilling some bee houses in my near future. The work never stops;)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 6:46PM
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GreenOrchardMom(Ga Mts 7)

I have devoted slender strips of flowers thru my fruit trees to lure beneficials & say thank you. One day I actually sat down with that ice cold beer I'd been dreaming of for days as I'd been cutting down shade trees carrying wood away on many a wicked hot summer evening. Thats thirsty work indeed.
Oh to sit & do absolutely nothing for a few minutes when your done just listening to the soft buzz of the pollinators finishing their day.
I watched all the sweet bees when I noticed some odd looking fellows... thought I had finally identified them but not according to that map.Too bad.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 8:13PM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

Thanks the best draw for Bee's lots lots of flowers The Blueberry Bee's work my Blackberry plants. Honey Bee's are about 2,000 feet from my plants about 40 hives.
The Blueberry Bee's nest in old Barn in old matresses and some are in gronud, that give name digger Bee's.
All Carpenter Bee's eat small insects they bush whack fling over top house they fly in air around eves roof as insect comes over top house they go get him come back to eve house.
I know Blackberries don't need pollinator But Blueberry Bee's have at neg-tor.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 9:30PM
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foolishpleasure

I have a question which may sound stupid, Are bees for pollination a must. I am sure it is good can the wind does the job

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 9:49PM
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ericwi

To foolishpleasure, it is not a stupid question, & it is not a simple question, either. I am not an expert in plant pollination, but I know a few things. Grasses and some crops, like corn(maize) are wind pollinated. Some important food crops are pollinated by bees, including blueberries, apples, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I was not aware that butterflies pollinated blueberries until I read the post, by bamboorabbit, earlier in this thread. There are some plants pollinated by bats. Not all plants need to be pollinated, mosses & ferns reproduce by spores, and there is no pollen involved.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 12:11AM
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blueboy1977(TX9A/B)

Brady, I just wanted to give a compliment to the good people at Crown Bees. I emailed them this evening and even on a Sunday afternoon they returned several emails with questions I had. I ordered some Hornfaced Mason Bees and wood tray house. Im going to keep my fingers crossed that they arrive in good condition. I would recommend them to anyone thinking about raising your own home grown pollinators.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 12:30AM
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Bradybb(wa8)

foolishpleasure,
Like ericwi said,it depends on the plant.With Blueberries,it may be the shape of the flower.It is almost a closed bell and probably why Honeybees don't like them as much as other flowers.Bumblebees are good at it because they can vibrate certain body parts and shake the pollen loose.

blueboy,
That's good to hear.One good thing I heard about Mason Bees is,they don't sting,something your boys will appreciate if they get a little too close.
I'm going to have to look into trying them. Brady

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 1:13AM
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blueboy1977(TX9A/B)

Maybe I spoke too soon! Walked out side today around 2pm and thought twice about walking in to my blueberry patch. There were more honey bees than I've ever seen in my back yard working the plants over. Even saw 2 thumb sized bumble bees mixing it up! Oh well, I guess adding a few mason bees to the mix can't hurt? Those honey bees sure are fair weather workers!!! I wish I had it that easy!!!! Hopefully the Mason bees can get established and will at least fill in the gaps when honey bees are being lazy. Do you know how to starve a honey bee??? Hide his food under his work boots!!!:-D

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 6:55PM
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kittymoonbeam

I am seeing more bees here than in previous years. I have 2 beautiful plums that flowered the same time as some other trees in the neighborhood. I would look and look for bees on those plum flowers and not see any. Go down the street to the neighbor's house and see trees loaded with bees. My peach was full of bees these last weeks. The plums are not flowering yet but when they do is there anything I can do to attract the bees?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 11:45AM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

I've been told if take some flowers off on clear day and at night one hour after dark go to hive and put flowers at open to hive Bee's smell flowers overnight next morning on clear sunny day they fly directly to your are someone Plum tree lol.
Bees Love sugar syrup put very small amount 2 three drops on small piece board put in Plum tree and watch that board when bees come take board in home bee free. put 3 are 4 blossoms from plum on board along with syrup Thin sugar water work just as good, but plum blossoms need to be there as well.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 4:03PM
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