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help with mason bees!

Posted by kawaiineko_gardener 5a ( on
Thu, Apr 26, 12 at 20:46

Yes I have done research with them (what type of 'home' they need, when to use them, etc.). Just to clarify they are solitary and don't need a 'hive' like honey bees do.

I plan to use a 'nest box' (it has holes drilled in it, for them to lay their eggs etc. it's not a literal 'box')

I'm also using them primarily for pollinating crops that require insect pollination.

I've looked on both the forums on Garden Web and my own research with what they pollinate. It says their primary use is for pollination of fruit trees, hence 'orchard bees'.

However can they also be used for pollination of veggie crops (winter squash melons etc.) or do they only pollinate fruit crops (fruit trees).

The other question I have is do they pollinate in the summer? It says they're primarily spring bees (early spring) but my growing season doesn't even start until May 28th.

The crops I grow won't even be bearing their blossoms and fruit until about August-September.

Will it be too late for mason bees by then? Honey bees really aren't an option.

The plot I'm growing on the plot itself is mine, the land isn't so I can't make any permanent changes.

I can't acquire them locally (no vendors that sell them, don't know anybody who is a beekeeper either), but I have sources of ordering them via internet.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: help with mason bees!

Not sure with mason's but I know bumbles might be another good solution.
Try to lure them into your yard.
What I would do...put a bunch of boxes up, it could be clay pots on the ground and some up on post's filled half with insulation. The drain hole would be the enter hole, close off the large opening or bury into the ground, side of a hill, expose the drain hole.
Also bird/nesting boxes, put a reducer, piece of wood with a small hole about the diameter of your thumb and screw on top.
I think it's still time to do it now,.. young queens in spring are searching for new homes.
Try different insulation,.. they also like moss!
I'm on the call list for swarm bee removal, a call last year, when I went there in someone's back yard, it was a birdhouse just loaded with bumbles!
I told them how lucky they are and not to worry, ..just keep a little distant.

RE: help with mason bees!

The kind of bee you'll want is called Peponapis pruinosa. I am unfamiliar with your location, but they reside all over the United States.

Understand that most of the world's bees are ground nesters, and this species is no different. Ground nesters are one of the more difficult species to manage, so I would suggest you observe the ground nesting species in your local environment, and try to encourage them to stay by not disrupting them (tilling, spraying, covering, etc). There are reports that some ground nesting species remain for decades.

Please understand there is a difference between a 'Mason Bee' and an 'orchard bee.' The term 'mason bee' generally refers to solitary bees that use mud resources for their nesting. Some mason bees work in late summer, whereas the more common 'mason bee' bought and sold online refers to the Osmia lignaria species that works in early spring (March to June). Of course, these months depend on geographic location and elevation.

I have never tested whether or not Osmia lignaria has a 'predilection' (or preference) for cucurbits. Considering their behavior in early spring, I doubt they would visit cucurbits, as they generally prefer tree/bush flowers over ground-blooming flowers.

I assume Bombus species would work cucurbits, and they may be a more manageable choice, but from my reading and observation, Peponapis pruinosa is your squash specialist.

Here is a link that might be useful: NativeBees

RE: help with mason bees!

Used to get them in the Garden all the time.... they liked spending nights in the squash flowers....

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