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Margriet

These apples are well pollinated because they are even in shape and of an optimal size.

A question from Gary, WA.  “Approximately how many bees do  I need to pollinate  17 fruit trees.  How many females do you recommend? ”

Good fruit production depends on both the health of the tree and good pollination.  Good pollination means at least 1-2 visits by bees.

The question of how many bees are needed for pollinating a number of fruit trees is a good question.  The answer comes over  a number of years.  If  in successive years fruit production is good and very few fruit are misshapen (because of poor pollination), you have enough bees for the orchard (whatever number you have).

My recommendation is to get 20-60 cocoons  and a mason bee home with nesting tunnels in the first year.  Learn to look after the bees over the course of a year and see how many cocoons your bees have produced.   Besides buying mason bee cocoons, there are a few other ways to augment your mason bee numbers.  Set out a series of nests in your neighbourhood, and better still at someones place that already has mason bees. 

Apple blossoms need 1-2 bee visits for good pollination.

Then watch your fruit production increase often in just one year.  A few bees will do a tremendous amount of work, but in poor weather conditions, you need more bees to get to the  flowers in the short periods of sunny weather.

Good luck.

 

Dr Margriet Dogterom

 

 

 

Thompson River voodoos (BC)

It is holiday time.  We travelled   into the Interior of BC after a snow fall and during a cold snap.  The prefect time for some x-country skiing.  We even saw some moose tracks although we did not see the moose. It was a surprise to see the Thompson River  still free of ice with little snow on its banks.   Winter is here to stay for  while.

Wishing everyone good holiday cheer, a Merry Christmas and a great New Year.

 

Moose tracks in the snow

Tracks, tracks, tracks 

Ponderosa PInes in winter
Ponderosa Pines in winter (BC)

Ponderosa pines in winter mist

Tiny parasitic wasp of mason bees

Here is something else to do besides cleaning and preparing for spring.   A nifty conversion of a 6v flashlight. 

 

to produce lotsof bees for the followign year, it is important that the majority of parasitic wasps are removed and destroyed.  Identification of parasitized cocoons can be done by ‘candling’. 

Randy from Olympia has devised a way of optimizing the light from a 6 volt battery  for the candling process.    I have not done it myself, but having a steady light for candling would optimize the candling process.  Candling can identify cocoons filled with parasitic wasps.  Once a cocoon with the parasitic wasps inside has been identified these are destoyed.  Freezing is a simple way of destroying these tiny wasps when they are inside cocoons.   If the wasp numbers  are not kept under control- they can parasitize   a lot of healthy cocoons.  For full details of Randy’s conversion click on the file below.  also click on candling in the search window of this blog.

“…I’ve had good luck with it since I made the conversion, getting steady light while my battery waits patiently for a chance to go camping again.  The info is in the attached Word document.  … if you think it’s of more general interest, you are welcome to put it out there on your website.  Let me know if you have any questions, Randy”.
Optimize Your Cocoon

1.  With snow falling all around us, it is a good time to clean any nesting trays which have benn emptied of cocoons earlier in the fall/ Sept-October. 

2.  For me, today was a good day to clean out some Cocoon shelters.  They are usually covered in bee feces.   

2.  If cocoons are stored inside a fridge, make sure  your fridge has at least a 2- cup   container of water on one of the shelves.

Hi,  I put out a box of 7mm tubes next to my normal 8mm  tubes for the Orchard Mason Bees or Osmia lignaria. The  mason bees are doing very well filling their tubes. Attached is a picture of the 7mm tubes, they have 5-7 bees working in them. Most are horned Face (Osmia cornifrons) but a couple look like the regular Osmia lignaria but are much smaller as can be seen in the picture. My question is are they just small Osmia lignaria that prefer the smaller tubes or is there another species that I don’t know about? From what I can tell they look like the Osmia lignaria but are about the size of a Horned Faced. Thanks                  Norm

 Hello Norm, Thank you for this fine photograph.  I see two bees quite clearly, and the third is a bit too blurry to see what it is.    I do not have any experience with the horned Face mason bee, but it has brownish coloration as the lower bee (see link below).  The black one is  Osmia lignaria.   Both are early spring pollinators, and so both would be about  in early spring.  The size of female mason bees or Osmia lignaria varies quite a bit.  I do not know if this is genetic variation or the end result of varying levels of nutrition.  It is unlikely that there is a third species of a smaller size in early spring.  However, many more smaller black mason bees are around that come out late spring through to  late fall.  at what time of year was this picture taken?    Dr Margriet Dogterom

 

 

  

 

 

 

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