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Monthly Archives: January 2011

Tim and a re-bar yurt

You may wonder about my fascination with yurts.  This fascination with yurts has been with me since I saw the yurts in Saskatchewan and at the same time the realization that yurts of this type would be a good structure for mason bee housing.  A yurt might just be the answer for creating a warm environment at a time of year when temperatures are often cool.  I think cool spring weather is our biggest problem in being able to produce lots of mason bees.  Even under cloudy and windy conditions temperatures are quite a bit warmer inside the yurt then outside.

The re-bar yurt was constructed by J.Gaskin.  Re-bar makes it as strong as the yurts of Saskatchewan (these were  made from iron pipe) and because of this strength, nests could be hung from the yurt itself.  Also, it could hold a significant number of nests, like in the alfalfa fields for alfalfa leaf cutter bee pollination.  The re-bar at the base of the yurt could be pushed into the dirt for added stability.

Hole in roof. Re-bar is welded to metal
ring.  Note white tarp was used for the roof.
Skirt buried under soil to prevent air
 movement  into yurt from base of the
wall.

This yurt consisted of 3 rings of re-bar and 8 verticals.  When I draped the material around the framework, I found that another ring of re-bar would have been useful at the height where the re-bar was bent to form the roof. Also, when hanging up the Highrises inside the yurt, I found that the Highrises were not easy to attach to the re-bar.  A special hook of some sort would make it easier to hang Highrises on the wall and would make it easy for removing Highrises for harvesting and cleaning.

Cocoon Release houses.
Each holding about 200 cocoons.
Highrises filled with a variety of interlocking Quicklock
 nesting  trays.  Note painted letters on front of nests to
help bees orient to their nesting tunnel.
                        
This yurt worked well for the bees. The size definitely makes it more suitable for commercial use rather than for use in the home garden. It was too big for a 4×4 and had to be hauled to the site by a farm vehicle.
Now all we have to do is design one that is suitable for the home gardens, one that can be used for small orchards and work for the larger commercial acreages. 
Lots of nesting trays for cleaning!

For  gardeners, setting out nests, harvesting cocoons and cleaning cocoons and cleaning nests is manageable.  I always say- do it early in the fall and then it is DONE!   However, when Christmas comes around there are always nesting trays that have escaped the early fall cleaning session!

It is more difficult if the nest cleaning is done in the middle of winter because the drying process has to be done inside.  This is no problem with cocoons since these usually air dry in about an hour or so (dry cocoons is a cool room, otherwise bees will emerge).  But the housing or shelters plus the nesting trays need to dry too and you need space for that.  When you have as many nests as the upper picture, winter cleanup is near to impossible unless you have a barn or large space to do it in.

Using  water, under high pressure
for washing trays.

 When you have one or a dozen nests, cleaning them with a scrubbing brush is no problem.  But for larger quantities,  cleaning them becomes a big job.

One year we had an opportunity to wash nesting trays with a high pressure hose.  Even though it was labour intensive because each trays had to be handled, the cleaning job was superb.  The water removed all signs of mud mites and other debris.

Both trays and Highrise shelters were dried in the sun and readied for re-assembly.  This is easy because both the wooden nesting trays and the newer Quicklock Corn trays can be inserted into the Highrise shelter and hung up into our yurts or like in earlier years, can be set up in other types of structures.

The Highrise- is a boon to managing mason bees in large quantities.

Both Highrise and Quicklock nesting trays can be obtained from www.Beediverse.com

Cleaned wooden nesting trays.
Cleaned Highrise shelters drying
in the sun.  (black containers in background
are pots for blueberry plants- nothing
to do with the washing process
or mason bees)                  

I have added a Search window on this blog.

 This will be handy if you are interested in any particular topic. For example, I searched for the word ‘mite’ and the search engine found 4 POSTS that used the word ‘mites’.  You then click on any of the posts you   choose to read.

Similarly, you could search for the word ‘seminar’ to see if there are any events near your location.

When I started my company, Beediverse Products, my evenings and weekends were quickly taken up with running fall workshops, spring seminars and going to quite a few conventions.   During a very busy time, I decided to ‘clone’ myself by producing a DVD “All about mason bees” !

Of course, my reason for producing the DVD was to make it easier for anyone to run an Introductory seminar on Mason Bees.   The DVD is a core piece of information for any seminar on mason bees.

This DVD is an integral part of learning and teaching about mason bees.  This DVD has sectors on the bees flying around and superb photography inside the nesting tunnel.  It also explains pollination and how to manage mason bees.  

Another great tool to have when you do seminar is the Lifecycle poster.  Wen Lin and I created the lifecycle/ management poster in color using Andi Lonon’s beautiful sketches.  This poster is a powerful tool in helping people understand the idea of solitary bees and their lifecycle.

Here are three ideas I would present at a seminar on the “Introduction to Mason Bees”

1.  Show them a nest or two and tell them where to hang the nest.  The best location for any nest is on a East facing wall of a shed or house, under an overhang and in the sun.  Also show them where to place the cocoons- preferably under cover of the nest and close to the nesting tunnels.

2.  Go over the lifecycle using the lifecycle poster.

3.  Show them the sections on the DVD of mason bees flying in and out of the nest, mason bees inside the nesting tunnel and the section on pollination.

Both the DVD and the poster can be obtained on-line via the website  www.Beediverse.com

 

Dr. Margriet Dogterom
in the foreground



  Every year Beediverse Products are available at the Seattle Flower and Garden Show.  Jim Tunnel owner of Beez Neez (Snohomish)  has the booth at the show. 

Date: Feb 23-27th, 2011.  Come and meet us at the booth.


Beediverse Products at the Beez Neez booth.





Jim with a customer
These photos were taken in 2008.  We were kept  very busy with all the questions that gardeners have about mason bees.  It is a lot of fun. 
This year, I will be doing  a 10-15 min  mini seminar three times each day:  10am, Noon and 4pm. 
See you there!

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