Talk about mason bees

ltiltonMay 31, 2013

The bee forum seems inactive in this area, so I'd like to talk about mason bees here, where several of us are using them for pollination.

I've been keeping mason bees for a number of years, but recent setbacks have made me decide to use new methods. My problem has always been the bees insisting on reusing their old filthy tubes. When I was using the cardboard tubes with liners, it was impossible to safely remove the liners from the tubes and impossible to tell which tubes had their females hatched, before they were already coming back to reuse them.

Last year, I tried Knox Cellars plastic "bee chalet", which was a big fail, as the plastic kept the interior constantly wet and soaked the liners.

I'm now considering Crown Bees disposable tubes, where the cost of using new ones every year isn't prohibitive. Does anyone have experience with these?

I've also read that bringing the bee home inside in June is keep to protecting the bees from the monodomtomerus wasp, which waits until they've formed cocoons to begin parasitizing. Once cocooned, bees can be safely moved. Can anyone confirm that this is the best practice?

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mayadawg(zone 9 san francisco)

Here is a link for a homemade nest that uses paper liners that are easy to remove... I tried it for the first time this year.

Here is a link that might be useful: DIY Mason bee nest with paper liners

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 6:19PM
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I see that the Beediverse site that your link links to talks about removing the bees from the outside in July. Other sources have said June.

I wonder if waiting til July might expose the bees to wasp predation.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 7:20PM
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Itilton, I have read the same info as you have re: June v/s July. June seems to make sense as the wasp population here doesn't get going until July. (I;m not saying they are not around, one just doesn't see many of them). I would love to have mason bees, but after reading about the tube situation I might not purchase the 'mason' bee condo I was looking at on line. They are such hard workers! Mrs. G

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 7:28PM
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I tried raising Mason bees over a 3 year program, regretfully a total waste of time. I didn't get a return to the nest site, out of 175 cocoons released.
Found out much later that I was using Western Mason bees. Should have used Eastern in my area.
So I suggest you start and determine which variety suits your area.
Someone suggested the Hornfaced bee as an alternative.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 7:38PM
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My hornfaced bees did really well until last year, and it wasn't all their fault. Now I need to rebuild.

One thing I'll be trying is putting the dormant bees out in the spring inside a box with a small hole for them to exit, so they can't get back in to try to use the old dirty tubes.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 9:00PM
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mayadawg(zone 9 san francisco)

My understanding is the only reason for waiting is so you don't dislodge the egg from the food source. If careful not to jar it I'm sure you can move it early. Try to keep temp consistent so the egg can hatch and spin a cocoon.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 1:08AM
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One source that spoke of moving them in June said it takes the larva just 10 days from egg to cocoon. I'd like to see confirmation of that, if true.

It would be good to count forward from the cessation of bee activity to a point when the bees should be safely wrapped.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 9:10AM
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