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|The corner uprights were made from 1.5 x 1.5 inches. Two pieces of thin lath was used to hold one Highrise with nesting trays. Each Highrise was hung onto the lath with two hooks.|
|Every piece of thin lath was nailed to the main structure that consisted of 2 hexagons (upper and lower -made from 1X2’s). A piece of welded re-bar was attached to each upright, at the base, so that the re bar could be pressed into the ground for added stability.|
|Tim standing next to Charley’s finished yurt.|
|Three rows of Highrises fit into this size yurt. Each Highrise is filled with our Quicklock Eco-Corn trays|
|Soil is added to the extra length of tarp to prevent wind from going underneath the tarp.|
|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.
Before we used corn nesting trays inside yurts, we used wooden nesting trays in wooden structures (picture below). Here, we are dealing with thousands of cocoons. How to release them is a good question.
With alfalfa leaf cutter bees, cocoons are set out in open trays (see previous blog), bees emerge and then fly to nearby nests. I have tried this method, but gusts of winds or something upsets the trays and all cocoons end up on the ground.
The system I normally use for setting out cocoons is to place them into small wooden shelters as seen in this photograph. On the upper shelf in this picture there are 3 shelters on the left hand side and 3 shelters on the right hand side. Each shelter contains between 100- 250 cocoons. The little door on the front of each shelter has a hole from which mason bees emerge. I find this shelter system the most secure way of releasing cocoons, no matter how many cocoons I have.
|Open structure for mason bee houses.
Nesting trays are usually set up in Highrises (see www.beediverse.com). Highrises hold about 10-12 nesting trays. We do not normally use the cedar roof on the Highrise in this system. I find the Highrise the best system for setting out trays. It easily fits a variety of trays and protects the nesting trays from the weather.
|Cedar shake cottage – and ideal location for mason bees|
|A collection of mason bee nests on the south facing side of
a cedar shake cottage. Odd shapes, colours and layout of nests
helps the bee in finding its own nesting tunnel.
I initially thought some freaky weather pattern made the area cooler and not very attractive to bees. But the 5th year’s explosive growth countered that argument. If production continues to be good, than food and other weather related conditions must be ok for mason bees.
My theory now is that during the first few years, there were so many available nesting holes in amongst the cedar shakes and the density of bees so low, only a few nested in the mason bee houses that I had set out. As the years passed, the cedar shake nesting holes filled up and mason bees began to use the mason bee houses in earnest.
If this is true, then natural nesting holes will be used first since these are more attractive then most man-made nests. After a few years mason bees will start using mason bee houses.
Note: All man-made nests and cocoons were cleaned every fall. Wooden structures were cleaned and scrubbed. Cocoons were washed free of mites, and later candled to identify and destroy any parasitized cocoons.