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Monthly Archives: February 2011

This is one of my favorite flowers!  Dandelions are a welcome color in the spring and they are a great source of both nectar and pollen for bees and other insects.  

Most gardeners believe dandelion flowers are a nuisance weed and therefore it has to be removed from their green lawn.  


If a gardener provides lots of flowers, more bees are in the garden and it generally means better pollination for fruit trees.




This honey bee (left hand side) and mason bee are too busy feeding on a dandelion flower to notice
the photographer Dave M.  Port Alberni, BC.

 

Kathy- Langley, BC sent me these photos of a bumble bees nesting in a bird house last spring. 

This is not an uncommon occurrance.  Bumble bees will nest in the ground, in a wall, in a bird house or other structure that will keep the weather out.  Bumble bees nest within insulation, grass or other similar materials.

Birds bring nesting materials like moss and grasses into their bird house and leave after their young have hatched. 

“When you see them up close they have an incredible amount of pollen on their back legs.  The opening into the bird  house is 1 1/4″ so you can see how huge they are.”

 
Underneath the moss is a bumble bee colony.  One bumble bee guard is walking on the surface of the colony.



This is a guard- watching out for predators.




Bumble bee on the left is cooling the colony with its wings.  The bumble bee on the right seems to be ready to go and gather more pollen and nectar for the young bees.




Coming in for landing.




Resting after a long flight.




Making room for a larger colony by removing excess moss material.





Summer mason bees removed from their Quicklock-Corn nesting tunnels.
This bee uses masticated leaf material as partition material.

 In the fall, when you find summer mason bee cocoons inside your nesting tunnels, the simplest is to clean out the other nesting tunnels and setting the nesting tray back, with the summer mason bee cocoons, in their wooden shelter ready for next spring.

Summer solitary bees in a wooden nesting tray.

Beediverse Emergence Shelter

Emergence nesting boxes made
by Dave M. of Port Alberni BC.

An alternative is to gently remove cocoons with a scoop (these cocoons are more fragile then the relatively sturdy mason bee cocoons) and lay them into a emergence box like the one Dave M. from Port Alberni made or into the Beediverse Emergence Shelter (www.Beediverse.com).

By removing these cocoons from their nesting tunnel, you are freeing up valuable nesting space for other nesting bees in spring and summer.

Summer mason bee cocoons placed into a Emergence/Release box, after removal
from nesting trays.

Quite a few new mason bee enthusiasts have asked me about nest location.

The best location for nests optimally includes the following:

1) East facing-bees can warm up early in the morning
2) Sunny-warmth provides adult mason bees energy to fly and provides warmth for larvae to eat.
3) Underneath over hang- protects nest and bees from getting wet.

If you don’t have all three factors at any one location, you may have to make a choice.

You may want to try nests at different locations.  This will tell you which is the best location for the bees.

For more detailed information see my book “Pollination with Mason Bees”  pages 31, 49-50.

This nesting tray contains 5 nesting tunnels.  The upper nesting tunnel contains cocoons with a mud partition between each cocoon.  The mud plug at the left hand side of the nesting tray indicates the entrance /exit.  The larger or female cocoons are at the back of the tunnel (RHS).  Note in the next two nesting tunnels, there are quite a number of compartments, not with a cocoon, but with a pollen lump.

The presence of a pollen lump means that the bee larvae died and did not continue its development into an adult bee.  This can be caused by disease, but can also be caused by cool weather.  Young bees need warmth to feed.  A two week spell of cold weather usually means the demise of these bees.  Unfortunately in this case, the pollen lumps were at the far end of the tunnel and these are the female bees.

This year, many people were not able to produce many mason bee cocoons.  I am sure the weather played a big part in this story.

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