what's up with my bees (mason or ?)

jbclem(z9b Topanga, Ca)May 14, 2014

I have a mason bee house made out of a 4x4 with a bunch of holes drilled into it. I've ignored it for several years, and never noticed any bees around it. But this year I noticed that many of the holes were plugged up so I put a white mark above each one and have been checking them a lot recently.

I'm in the Los Angeles area, the spring has been warm, and this bee house is facing East so the rising sun hits it. Recently I've seen holes in about half of the plugs, and for the past month I've been looking into these holes with a flashlight and sometimes seeing movement. I'm also seeing yellow and blacks as colors of whatever is inside. I thought Mason bees were dark colored so these may be something else. And even though there is movement, and these bees look fairly large, I've yet so see one push out through the hole. Of course, I'm looking at night most of the time, but sometimes in the afternoon.

Any ideas at what I'm looking at, and when they are supposed to be coming out. My fruit trees are way past blooming, so they won't be much use in that way except perhaps with the orange trees. But I'm curious to know what I have.

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

The yellow is most likely the pollen cake the bee is forming for its larva.

Masons are most active in the morning.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 8:47PM
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jbclem(z9b Topanga, Ca)

There's a bee half way out from it's cell and it has black and yellow coloring. What's strange is that this bee has been moving around inside and seemingly trying to come out for more than a week.

I wonder if this is normal...I'd think a bee would make it's way out quickly, in a day or two.

It doesn't look like a mason bee, so it must be something with a later hatching date. What other bees types would like a hole this size?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 3:56AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Interesting post, I'm curious to see how it works out. I also have a small mason bee house. This is my 2nd one and had no activity in the first one a couple of years ago and none this year either. I thought I might have gotten it out too late for them. There were bees in my area early in March or mid March and it was another week or two before I got the bee house put up. Next year I plan to get it put up earlier. Will bees overwinter in the holes and should you bring it into a garage for the winter or something?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 4:04AM
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jbclem(z9b Topanga, Ca)

I was just out looking at the mason bee house (4pm) and this time the active bee was facing in and actively doing something with her legs. After a while she backed out and moved around on the outside, even checking out a different hole. She's a full size yellow bee/wasp with two black stripes on the abdomen/back, and a large black patch on the top of her head. She went back into the hole and continuing what I think is a cleaning action...there's still room for another cell so I'd guess that's what's going on.

After looking at some photos, I'd say this is a wasp, no fuzzy hair, geometrical patterns on the black stripes instead of bands like a bee has. But shapewise almost like a bee. Not affected at all by me and a flashlight 3 inches away. What kind of wasp is liking my mason bee house?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 7:34PM
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jbclem(z9b Topanga, Ca)

I seem to have more than one of these black and yellow wasps living in my mason bee housing. Through some of the small holes I can see the same coloring as the one I've seem outside. They definitely aren't aggressive, I've been shining my bright flashlight at them day and night, with my face a few inches away. There seem to be some new plugs, so this is a work in progress. I'll post a photo if I can ever get one to come out and pose for me.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 6:40AM
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