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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Here is photo 011 by Frank M. 
Frank writes “011 shows just how abundant these foreign larvae were in some cases.  In this image, they are actually spilling out of the channels because the upper part of the channel was filled too. Notice also that at the right-hand side of the image there is a chamber filled with wiry frass that is different from the stuff in image 004.”

These grubs, may well be the ’fruit fly’ Joe S. took and I wrote about on Jan 7th 2011 in this blog.  Joe mentioned these fruit flies had red eyes.  A friend of Joe’s searched the web and came up with “houdini fly”  Cacoxenup-inbagator flies.

If you still have these grubs, set them up in a moist warm environment such as a petri dish and see what comes out.  What an interesting project for a child who is interested in science.  The search continues.

Frank M.  contacted me recently about his findings at his yearly mason bee workshop.  A most interesting series of photos- with permission.

“This photo shows some extraordinary wiry frass, even more wiry than the material that I showed you last year from the 2010 harvest.  Any ideas?  There is also some fluffy stuff in the same chamber and the one next to it, similar to the material in one of the images on one of your blogs.”
This beautifully constructed chamber inside a routered piece of wood, has concave mud walls.  It normally contains one masn bee cocoon, but something has entered it.  The chamber contains frass- or insect fecal material.  According to Bosch and Kemp (2009)  wiry frass is likely produced by one of two insects found in masn bee nesting tunnels.  One is the cuckoo bee.  If there is a cocoon amongst the mass of frass- then it would be the cuckoo bee.  If there is no cocoon- it is most likely the spider beetle.  It is about 2-3mm long with 4 white patches on its back and long attennae.  Both insects eat and destroy the mason bee larvae and its food.  They both invade the chamber when it is pretty close to being sealed by the bee.

Ground nesting bees usually emerge in June when soil temperatures increase from the cooler spring temperatures.  These bees are often more than a foot down in the ground.  Usually one bee uses one entrance, but in some species a few bees use the same entrance, but different nesting tunnels.

This aggregation is in a school yard ( Burnaby, BC).  When Alie told me about it, she showed me the area adjacent to a small fence.  the kids came out for a show and tell, and they were fascinated.  Anyone know the type of bee?

The soil is quite hard in this area and when the sun shines, the ground is always in the sun.  if you look closely, you can see little mounds of earth deposited by the emerging bees.  The scale becomes a little clearer when you see the children’s feet in the area.  When all the children were back in their class, I checked out to see the scope of the area.  It was quite large  (10 x 10 m or 30 x 30 feet). 

We have had some awesome visitors on the West coast of BC and in WA.  My friend Gary sent along these pictures and the photographer gave me his permission to place them on this blog.  Thank you Bob Nolan for sharing your awesome pictures.  Gary said that

“Those owls were there, apparently, because the lemming population in the north is unusually low, so they are foraging for whatever fish, rats or mice they can snag before continuing their winter flight to their southern habitat.   Let’s hope they get enough to sustain themselves for the journey.”

Ahhg… time flies when you are having fun!  I thought about the blog a lot over the past couple of weeks, but have had no chance to get it.  First a new flu bug got hold of me and that was no fun.  Soon after year-end  was a must.  But now things are moving along nicely and I have a bit more time for blogging.  I picked up some interesting stories and photos from friends over the last couple of weeks.  In the next bit, I will share them with you.  I hope you like them.  Margriet

Over the holidays, we have been busy assembling our new Mason Bee Home Kit.  It is a nifty product and will be a very popular item for children in schools and in the home.  Besides the pieces that make up the home, there is enough paper in the kit for making 20 nesting tubes.  This will get the child started.  If they decide to make more nesting tubes, newspaper or Kraft paper can be used to make more nesting tubes.  It will be fun to see how children will decorate their mason bee homes.  Please send in your photos of completed homes that are decorated and ready for the garden.   I am looking forward to seeing the art. 

Click on the link below to see the Kit.  Scroll to the last item in the Category

view the kit

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