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Bees

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi,   I have a number of bees at one of my houses this year. I’m familiar with the Blue one but wondering what the reddish –Brown one is? Would appreciate any assistance identifying. Thanks  Norm.

Looks like the reddish one is Osmia cornifrons.

 

 

Sent:Saturday, September 29, 2012 1:34 PM

Subject: Ground bees
Dear Margriet
We have a bee problem in our garden in Aston Tirrold in the UK
I found your details on the web.  See this video.  Any idea how we can manage this?
Please do feel free to use the video!   Justin K.
Hello Justin,
Thank you for your inquiry- from the UK!
Whow- I have never seen something like this.  What a wonderful sight.  If you are a bee person like myself, I would be delighted to have these in my garden because bees are a pretty precious commodity.
 I would make a special patch for the bees, by surrounding this area with a border of rocks and plants.  They obviously like the soil and the drainage of your garden. 
 
I assume you don’t want to destroy them, but control them in some way.  Nature is pretty good at controlling populations.  I would expect that growth of this bee has occurred over the past few years and that a drop in the population  is inevitable in the next few years.
 
If you do decide to arrange a border around this population, and it begins to extend beyond the border, you could water down the area to slow them down a bit.  But of course this would depend on the depth of their nests.
 
I think it is a great clip.  Hope this helps and keep us posted on what you decide to do.-  Margriet
reply from Justin
Thank you!
Will let you know how it goes

Hi Margriet,
I’m wondering if you would be able to identify these ‘bees’ in my dad’s
garden for me.  I don’t believe they are mason bees as they’re too
‘stripey’ but I’m not sure if they’re good or bad.

I hope the summer is treating you well!
Thanks,  Shirley, Cultivate Garden & Gift Ltd.  Parksville, BC, V9P 1T5

Hi Shirley,
I believe these are leafcutter bees.  Did you see them carry leaves into the
nest?

If not, they are another species of solitary bee.
The legs seem broader and very hairy and that makes me think it might not be
a leafcutter bee.  Does anyone know what this bee  is?  Margriet

 

Thanks, Margriet!  I didn’t see any leaf carriers with this nest.  I did
spot a leaf cutter in my own garden yesterday, chomping away on a golden
privet and they’ve made a mess of my newly planted hydrangea!  I was happy
to finally spot one as they’ve been elusive when I’m around.  At least, I
thought they had been until I saw one and realized they were plentiful this
summer as I had noticed the whiter looking bees quite a bit and wondered
what they were.

I also found a couple of pieces of what I think was a nest lying on the
ground in another area.  I didn’t know what it was at first so started
pulling it apart and realized it was the little round bits of leaves all
rolled together like a cigarette!   I don’t know if it got knocked out of
somewhere because it was just lying there in the middle of nowhere on top of
the soil like it had blown in.  (This nest may have been pulled out of the nest by birds.)

Another good teaching opportunity for my kids…although they didn’t seem
quite as excited as I was.
Shirley

From MB

I’ve been keeping mason bees for four years now and earlier this month I came across something I have never seen/read/heard about before.

One afternoon I noticed a big bumblebee — a big bugger, about twice the size of a mason bee with a tiger-striped orange abdomen — hanging around my mason bee houses and fussing about at the end of one of the tubes. I later observed the same bumbler entering already occupied tubes on more than one occasion. I figured the bumbler was simply stealing the pollen already gathered by the mason bees — you know: working smarter, not harder.
Then one evening I was checking the mason bee house with a flashlight and noticed that in four of the tubes, there was a thick, viscous liquid inside. The taste test doesn’t lie — it was honey.
I emailed Margriet and asked some of the questions running through my mind: Is this common? Do bumblebees hijack mason bee tubes for themselves?
I already have 20 tubes filled up so I have more than enough mason bees for next year. I’m no interest in killing the bumbler but its behaviour was fascinating.
Since then I did some research and, combined with my observations, I have concluded the bumbler in question is an orange rump bumblebee queen (Bombus melanopygus) who has apparently made an odd choice for a nesting site (image: Queen). She had taken possession of a row of four mason bee tubes, each of which contains globs of honey. If you look inside the tubes in image: honey, the little gleams of light are actually the blobs of honey. (I have a better shot of the honey but I can’t get my email to work on my iphone right now).
She goes in and out of the tubes but has to back out of them because she is too big to turn around inside like a mason bee can.
One evening when I returned home from work I was lucky enough to watch as the queen used her wings to fan the entrance to one of the tubes (image: bumbler1A). I’ve read about honeybees doing this at the entrance to a hive so it was interesting to see. When she was finished, I was able to get the second shot (image: bumbler 2).
There are also now a couple of worker orange rumped bumblebees on site and one of them has taken possession of another tube. They are much smaller — but still bigger than a mason bee — with just a dab of orange on the end of their butts.
I have two mason bee houses located side by side but the bumblers show no interest at all in the other house. The bumblers are now very active as you can see by the heavily stained appearance around the end of their tubes (image: tubes). I believe this is caused by dirt and pollen tracked through the honey by the busy bumblebees. They are still producing honey.
From all appearances, the bumblebees have set up shop in the empty mason bee tubes for the remainder of the summer. I have 10 empty ones left so there still room for expansion.
Thanks Michael B.  for some great photos and some neat observations.-Margriet
Bumbler IA

Bumbler 2



Queen



Honey on base of tubes

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