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Field shelters

Community gardens are growing in numbers both in cities and small towns and so is the idea of having mason bees.  These are exciting projects and are a boon to educating a large number of people about gardening and keeping mason bees.  The Environmental Youth Alliance of BC (EYA),  based in Vancouver,  focus on educating youth and the public about the importance of bees.  http://www.eya.ca/pollinators-paradise.html

Others groups focus on How-to grow food.

These groups have the same issues when setting mason bees into public spaces.

  • Bee Health: How to keep the bees away from the weather- Design of Shelter
  • Bee Home Security:  How to keep bee homes from being taken-height and nests fixed to structure.

 EYA involved youth to build Shelters for their mason bees.  The most fancy is the Pagoda Shelter in Stanley Park.  Although I have not seen it myself-I was told that it was designed so that the Quicklock nest blocks could not be pulled out of the structure.  This structure is secure.  I have not heard if rain was able to run into nesting holes.  Setting the pagoda at a light angle would prevent this.  

EYA-Pegoda mason bee shelter in Stanley Park,Vancouver, BC

EYA -A large roof over this tall Field Shelter would increase protection from the weather. Height gives it security.

 EYA is also involved in educating farmers about mason bees.  This field shelter placed  on farmland  is  not so tall since it is on private property, but nests are well protected from the weather.

A combination of Quicklock -corn trays and routered wooden nesting rays are used in this project. 

Although the jury is not out on this yet, it seems that if a variety of nests are used in a Shelter fewer bees are produced.  It is best to use one shelter for one type of nests and not mix nest type in one shelter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Margriet, Finally, I am attaching photos, as promised some time ago, of the bee condo structure my husband and I designed and built at our community garden in False Creek, Vancouver, BC.

Since we put it up fairly late in the season, we were too late for any bees to take up residency, but we are planning on getting cocoons next spring to “kick start” the cycle.

I hope you enjoy the photos. Kind regards,  Monica

 

Hi Monica,

Thanks for the photos.  This is a good workable shelter for mason bees when there are no other structures around to attach your nests.    Others who work in community gardens might very well use this idea themselves.   I recommend taking the nest down until early spring when you set out your bee cocoons to avoid any winter mishaps.

Hi Margriet , here are photos of this years Hutch/Field Shelter at home. Thought that you may be interested in the design. Will sent pictures of another unit I have in White Rock when I get a chance to get out there. Note that I am using a blue tarp , it absorbs more heat than other colors. Bees do not care. John
Outside view of John’s Field Shelter
Inside view of John’s Field Shelter
Tarp is kept tight by nailing a piece of lath over the tarp.
In mid- April, a few trees were in bloom.  Mostly the crabapples and other pollinizers.  The yurt is in the background.  We set out 1200 cocoons with 650 nesting tunnels- about 1 nesting hole per female in 9 Highrises.



Blooming crabapple with Yurt in background.





I installed ten highrises inside this yurt for a start.
 The emergence shelters containing the cocoons sit on top of each highrise.
 Between 100-200 cocoons are in each emergence shelter.
 In two weeks time I will add more highrises and cocoons.



I use hooks to hang Highrises on the uprights of the Yurt.
Early spring temperatures are often cold and wet.  Not great for bees.  But there are periods of sun and sunny days that allow mason bees to emerge, mate, fly and start nesting.  However on sunny days, the wind chill might just drop the temperature enough so that it is too cold for mason bees to be active.  Having a large protective shelter for bee homes is a plus.  Inside the yurt it is like a little greenhouse, with excess heat escaping through the roof.
I will be noting the temperature over the next couple of weeks to show how the yurt moderates the temperature.
Four thermometers with identical readings used for
checking temperatures inside and outside the yurt.
I have choosen 4 thermometers that read the correct and the same temperature.  The next thing to do is the hang them inside and outside the yurt for comparing temperatures.
Here is a picture of my friend Ella looking at male and female mason bees milling around the entrance of their emergence shelter( upper left).  She had never seen them so close.  She watched them emerge from their little box or emergence shelter, several matings and extensive grooming by the males after mating.  Even though it was 14C outside the yurt, temperatures inside the yurt reached 18C.  This is a good temperature for emergence, mating and the females to fly off to find a food source nearby.
The home yurt is filled with nests and mason bee cocoons as the season progresses.  When there is lots of food and bees, the whole yurt is filled.  In this home yurt, few bees and nests have been set out at the onset
 of the season.



Ella watching mason bees emerge and mate.



Close-up of male mason bees outside their emergence shelter.

full view of Home-yurt with Ella inside watching the bees emerge.

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