Monthly Archives: April 2011

Here are some of my peach tree blossoms.  Many pollen producing anthers surround the female stigma.  Once pollen has been transferred to the stigma, pollination has occurred.  This follows with fertilization,  fruit and seed development.  Unfortunately, cold temperatures have prevented any bee visits to these flowers.  It is just too cold.  However, the weather man says that the unusually cold temperatures in April will change to more normal and warmer temperatures.  I hope so!  My peach flowers cannot last too much longer.  Unfortunately flowers have a shelf-life- pollinated or not.   Three more days until warmer temperatures.  I will set out some more mason bees tomorrow.  I hope the weather co-operates…..



I am hoping these buds will develop into flowers just when the weather brings warmer temperatures for bee flight.



My early yellow plum is loosing its petals.  I call it petal snow.  Because of the very cold weather, I doubt that we will get any yellow plums this year.

This morning Ron W. emailed me some great questions. 


I am a bit confused on the subject of timing my bees emergence with my fruit tree blossoms.
Yes, the ultimate goal is for bees to emerge with fruit tree blossoms.  This is the easiest if the weather continues to be warm as we head into spring.  If periods of cold or rainy weather occur during spring, life expectancy of the bees can be short lived and pollination can grind to a halt.  

My trees are just beginning to flower, but it still cold outside. Is it too early to force them to emerge by warming the cocoons indoors? 
If the weather stays cold and rainy it is definitely too early to warm them up.  The problem with warming them up is that the emerged bees need food in the next few days.  If they cannot forage for food, the bees may starve. 

I understand that 75 deg F will allow them to emerge within about 4 days. But, do I want to put them outside after emergence with temps still in the upper 30s at night, and upper 50s during the day?  Yes, this is the problem.  Once they have emerged, bees have to be set outside no matter what the weather is up to.  Their longevity in cold temperatures and without food depends on their stored fat bodies- from the previous year’s development.

 What do I use to let them emerge in, while indoors? I see you sell emergence shelters. As they are emerging, can the first to emerge just stay in the shelter (or box?) while I wait for the rest to emerge, or do they need to be released immediately as they emerge?  I usually set the emergence shelter with cocoons inside my home at 65- 70C for a day prior to setting them out.  The emerged bees, will be inside the emergence shelter until released the next morning.   Of course I take the risk that if it rains ( or is very cold) for a week, I will loose the emerged bees.   I find the emergence shelter the most useful emergence tool because it is bee- tight.  I usually set out 1/4 of my cocoons out at the time, with  5-7 day gap between emergence.  This way, some batches may be lost due to the weather, but unlikely that all four batches will be lost due to bad weather.

 
As an alternative to trying to out-fox the weather set cocoons out in a predator proof container late winter, and let nature do its thing.  

This latter method is definitely the one that I would recommend if you have less than 30 cocoons.
Margriet  

Starter Cottages, available from my on-line Beediverse.com web site, are by far the best little box for use as a release box/emergence box.  I have tried all kinds of boxes, made from cardboard, plastic and wood.  Cardboard is too fragile and predators can get at the cocoons too easily.  Plastic sometimes overheats and is slippery for the bees to walk on while exiting.  Starter cottages are bee proof, can be washed for next year, and are relatively predator proof.  I usually place 100-200 cocoons per cottage.  One day before setting the cottage out into the field and adjacent to nests, I set the cottage out in the kitchen table. It gives the bees a head start on emergence.  I don’t want bees to fly around my kitchen, so I need a bee proof container= Starter Cottage.

I used this plastic container to carry 5 Starter cottages to the field site.   Each has about 100 cocoons.  The door to the cottage is secured with a pin, sometimes two.  The entrance hole is temporarily plugged with a cardboard straw until the starter cottages are set up in the yurt or other structure.  These Cottages have been out of the fridge and into a kitchen environment for 24 hours.  This means that some of the males will have emerged.

The D27 Yurt is set up with 9 Highrises in the upper part of the yurt.  Each Highrise has Eco-Corn Quicklock nesting trays with 72 nesting holes.  Note these Highrises do not have a cedar roof.

Starter cottages are set on top of each Highrise.
This is a Charly- Yurt containing many different
nesting trays, wood, plastic and eco-corn.

Once Starter cottages have been set in place,
the cardboard tube is removed.
Three males have emerged and are examining their new abode.   Note their long antennae- nearly as
long as their wings.
They now have to wait for the girls to appear.



Crab apple blossoms in bloom.    The yellow anthers hold the pollen in readiness for insect to collect.  Insects move  the pollen amongst the flowers.  The transfer of pollen from one flower to another is called pollination.



Crab apple blossoms are the first to appear in this orchard.  You can see that apple trees in the background are not in blossom just yet.  A honey bee is on the move amongst these blossoms (out of focus though).  Yellow pollen from these flowers was visible on the legs of this honey bee.

 This 20 year old yellow plum has the most profuse blossoms.  Unfortunately, when it is in bloom, like this year, temperatures are cold and it often rains.  Lack of pollinators when it is cold results in plums only every 4-5 years.  The blossoms are spectacular though.   After about 1-2 weeks of blossom the ground is covered in a carpet of pink petals.  A lovely sight.  Every year the tree grows some more. I will have to get it trimmed sometime soon…

T