Mason Bees in Louisiana

Belldiver(8a)July 8, 2012

Hello!

I'm interested in Mason Bees to help pollinate a one acre fruit orchard in South Louisiana. Does anybody know of a local/regional source for getting started, somewhere in the South-East U.S.? Most of the producers I see online are Pacific NW or East Coast.

I started out thinking about a standard honey bee hive, but the wife nixxed that idea. Mason Bees seem like a good safe kid-friendly alternative.

Anybody have some experience with them on the Gulf Coast?

Thanks,

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Dzitmoidonc(6)

I was hoping somebody closer to you would answer, but here goes.
My only experience with them is from what a buddy who has an orchard has shown me. He has had them for about 10 years, since the Varroa mite hit here. his hoeney bees dies out, and the USDA farm at Beltsville, MD helped him out. The link below tells more than I know.

Another friend who burns wood has found a species of bee that bores into her hickory and pollinates her squash. She allows the face of the wood to remain, and the bees come back every year.

Also, I have found a beehive to be anything but kid unfriendly. For 2 years we had one about 5 ft. from our front door (that's where I caught the swarm), and I was too lazy to move it. When I did, it was put under the head of my hammock and I was never stung. After the mites killed that one, I went out of the bee business since it is quite labor intensive to manage only 3 hives.

If you want honeybees, take the Mrs. to see one. Beekeepers are quite willing to educate the public about bees. When I had bees, I had one hive so gentle that the local nursery school visited every spring. I opened the hive and the kids watched from about 10 ft. away behind me. Never a sting, and the ones in the van eventually came out to get closer.
Hope this helps.
Article:
http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~dailey/SolitaryPollinatingBees-2010.pdf

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 9:34AM
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Belldiver(8a)

Thanks for the info. Good link BTW...

I'm still hoping to hear from a local source for Mason and/or Hornface bees. I may do some more checking into standard honey bees in the area, but not sure I can dedicate the time to actively managing them properly. I spend about half my year away from home and there's no way the wife will deal with them directly.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 9:16PM
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gyozu(7 Winston-Salem, NC)

I have been mucking around with local Mason bees for several years now.

They are active around here in early spring when the Blueberries flower till mid June. I do not know when they would be active in your area.

Will their active period coincide with the fruit trees you are hoping to pollinate?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 1:42PM
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Belldiver(8a)

I'm looking for early spring pollinators. Mainly citrus and blueberries that are in bloom by March/April. The timing seems right, just can't find any local resources. I'll probably end up mail ordering some to get started from Florida or East Coast somewhere, and see how it works out.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 3:40PM
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gyozu(7 Winston-Salem, NC)

You could buy a few cocoons and also make a bunch of nesting blocks to try and attract any locals. Locate your blocks along with the hatching cocoons I started off with 2 24 hole blocks and am now up to about 250 6" tubes that yield around 2000 cocoons. I am going to stay at that level since a beekeeper has put in 5 hives next door to me. May even try and sell a few cocoons next season on CL to pay for my parchment paper.

I agree as to the fact that hives are not dangerous. You might find a local beekeeper who is looking for a place to locate some hives. You might also try a WTB on your local CL. Please check with your local extension office they may be able to help you with locating local sources for Mason Bee info.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 3:59PM
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Belldiver(8a)

Good idea checking with the local extension office. I'll see what info they might have.

I plan on making several different style nesting blocks/tubes and placing them around my property. I'll leave some empty to see what attracts from the local population and will probably purchase some cocoons as starters for the others. Next year will be an experiment.

If you're selling some over the winter, send me a message, I might take some off your hands.

Thanks,

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 5:47PM
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charlieboring

I am in Virginia and instead of buying mason bees, I simply built some mason bee houses in early March and they just filled them up. I add a house each year and have a passle of them now. Try it and see if you need to buy.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 7:00AM
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curdog007

Dr. Sampson USDA in Poplarville MS is the local Mason bee expert.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 11:17PM
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blueboy1977(TX9A/B)

I just tried the hornfaced mason bee here in south Houston tx. I ordered 20 cacoons and block house for them. Of the 20, 8 were female and the rest males. Pretty much all of them have hatched now and not one stayed. I've seen no activity at all around my block house. Maybe I need more than just 20 to start?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 1:07PM
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swampmama3

I'm in central louisiana not too far from Marksville. I live on a rural acreage that I've let 9/10 of it revert to wild. We stopped mowing and the brushy-weedy new growth has thistle and dewberries and all other manner of flowering stuff in it. It's all covered in both mason bees and honey bees. As I sit on my porch, mason bees are constantly banging into the roof overhang, but my siding is fiber cement. I guess I'll have to see how to build mason bee blocks. We have a drill press, so it shouldn't be difficult.
I call them bumblebees, and if we're talking about the same critter, then they love thistle, dewberry, and azaleas. Maybe you should provide the right plants to attract them, and they will come? I think we have so many because we stopped mowing all except the acre where the house is. There's plenty of food.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 3:52PM
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