|Stacked box Sysem for pollinating field crops|
One problem with this structure is that it catches the wind and it makes it more difficult for bees to fly in and out of the nest. The wind also makes it colder around the nests.
|Yurts of all colours in the distance.|
These prairie yurts make pollination feasible since leafcutter bee nests are protected from the wind and rain. Temperatures inside the yurt are warm under windy conditions and on very hot days, excess heat escapes through the roof. It seemed that this structure moderated both cool and hot temperatures.
We saw two designs that consisted of a metal framework and surrounds of tarp.
The metal framework consisted of one inch square tubing, welded together into a Octagon.
|In this yurt, the roof consisted of 8 metal bars, bent to make a sloping roof. Note that the tubes leave an 8″ diameter hole in the roof.|
I found out later, that these very heavy structures were left in the field all year round. Of course the tarp was removed when nests were removed. Sometimes fields of alfalfa are burned with the metal part of the yurt still in the field. Because of their weight, you would need a good size truck and some kind of a lift to haul them onto the truck.
I thought this would be a good system for farmers who have heavy duty equipment, welding capabilities and large acreages to pollinate.
But a structure is needed so that small operators with a few thousand mason bees or more can be more successful in gardens and small orchards.
|The tarp was held onto the frame with plastic ties threaded through tarp grommets.|
Most of the leafcutter bees flew through the door opening, but a few, perhaps the disoriented bees, exited through the roof.
Even with a stiff breeze, it was nice and warm inside the yurt. Not too hot, like the plastic molded yurt.
Since that time, we have tried quite a few different designs using different materials. We do know that we are sticking to tarp material. Tarps work and are readily available. More on some of our designs in the next blog.
|The framework of this yurt consists of 8 pieces of metal. These are welded together using a center ring. There are 3 alfalfa leaf cutter bees visible flying through the roof -vent hole.|
|A plastic tie used to hold tarp to metal framework of the yurt adjacent to door.|
The first time I saw yurts was in 2005.
|Strange structures in a prairie alfalfa field|
In 2005, we travelled across Canada for a holiday. While we were travelling through Saskatchewan, I saw these strange structures in alfalfa fields. I guessed that these structures could be housing alfalfa leaf cutter bees used to pollinate alfalfa for seed production. A few years prior to this, I had seen wooden sheds, crates and empty buses used to house alfalf leaf cutter bee nests. We looked inside and saw that it did house leaf cutter bee nests. However, even though there were quite a few small vent holes and an open door, it was very hot inside. This yurt was molded and made of plastic.
|Molded yurt for housing alfalfa leaf cutting bees|
|Styrofoam alfalfa leaf cutter bee nests hung from the walls of the molded yurt|
|A emergence tray of loose alfalfa leaf cutter bee cocoons.|
Colourful yurts made of tarp material were also seen. The roof was made out of translucent white tarp and the wall was either made of white, orange or blue tarp.
|Yurts made of tarps in the distance.|
|Tim is having a closer look at a tarp yurt in a blooming alfalfa field.|
When we stepped inside, the temperature was probably around 25C. Not too hot and just right for alfalfa leaf cutter bees. Alfalfa leaf cutter bees need at least 20C. I thought that this yurt design was much better than the molded yurt. The temperature inside the yurt was just right for these bees. The only difference that I could see between the tarp yurt and the molded plastic yurt was the larger roof hole in the tarp yurt.
…More on this design next time.
|A mason bee on a cabbage flower.|
Our first yurts were made out of wood. and the nests were set up inside the yurt.
|Quicklock trays set side by side on wooden boxes inside the yurt|