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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Hi Margriet,
I’m wondering if you would be able to identify these ‘bees’ in my dad’s
garden for me.  I don’t believe they are mason bees as they’re too
‘stripey’ but I’m not sure if they’re good or bad.

I hope the summer is treating you well!
Thanks,  Shirley, Cultivate Garden & Gift Ltd.  Parksville, BC, V9P 1T5

Hi Shirley,
I believe these are leafcutter bees.  Did you see them carry leaves into the
nest?

If not, they are another species of solitary bee.
The legs seem broader and very hairy and that makes me think it might not be
a leafcutter bee.  Does anyone know what this bee  is?  Margriet

 

Thanks, Margriet!  I didn’t see any leaf carriers with this nest.  I did
spot a leaf cutter in my own garden yesterday, chomping away on a golden
privet and they’ve made a mess of my newly planted hydrangea!  I was happy
to finally spot one as they’ve been elusive when I’m around.  At least, I
thought they had been until I saw one and realized they were plentiful this
summer as I had noticed the whiter looking bees quite a bit and wondered
what they were.

I also found a couple of pieces of what I think was a nest lying on the
ground in another area.  I didn’t know what it was at first so started
pulling it apart and realized it was the little round bits of leaves all
rolled together like a cigarette!   I don’t know if it got knocked out of
somewhere because it was just lying there in the middle of nowhere on top of
the soil like it had blown in.  (This nest may have been pulled out of the nest by birds.)

Another good teaching opportunity for my kids…although they didn’t seem
quite as excited as I was.
Shirley

Community gardens are growing in numbers both in cities and small towns and so is the idea of having mason bees.  These are exciting projects and are a boon to educating a large number of people about gardening and keeping mason bees.  The Environmental Youth Alliance of BC (EYA),  based in Vancouver,  focus on educating youth and the public about the importance of bees.  http://www.eya.ca/pollinators-paradise.html

Others groups focus on How-to grow food.

These groups have the same issues when setting mason bees into public spaces.

  • Bee Health: How to keep the bees away from the weather- Design of Shelter
  • Bee Home Security:  How to keep bee homes from being taken-height and nests fixed to structure.

 EYA involved youth to build Shelters for their mason bees.  The most fancy is the Pagoda Shelter in Stanley Park.  Although I have not seen it myself-I was told that it was designed so that the Quicklock nest blocks could not be pulled out of the structure.  This structure is secure.  I have not heard if rain was able to run into nesting holes.  Setting the pagoda at a light angle would prevent this.  

EYA-Pegoda mason bee shelter in Stanley Park,Vancouver, BC

EYA -A large roof over this tall Field Shelter would increase protection from the weather. Height gives it security.

 EYA is also involved in educating farmers about mason bees.  This field shelter placed  on farmland  is  not so tall since it is on private property, but nests are well protected from the weather.

A combination of Quicklock -corn trays and routered wooden nesting rays are used in this project. 

Although the jury is not out on this yet, it seems that if a variety of nests are used in a Shelter fewer bees are produced.  It is best to use one shelter for one type of nests and not mix nest type in one shelter.

 

 

 

In the fall of 2010 I began blogging using the Google blogspot.  In just under 2 years there were  34,455 visits.  In the middle of Augus this year I moved the whole blog under the auspices of Beediverse.com.  At the new location, there have been 494 visits and 1894 page views.  Our next goal is to move our friends to our new blog.  These friends signed up for email reports of new blogs. A handy way of keeping up with the news.   I will let you know when this is up and running and you yourselves can join.  Margriet

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Margriet, Finally, I am attaching photos, as promised some time ago, of the bee condo structure my husband and I designed and built at our community garden in False Creek, Vancouver, BC.

Since we put it up fairly late in the season, we were too late for any bees to take up residency, but we are planning on getting cocoons next spring to “kick start” the cycle.

I hope you enjoy the photos. Kind regards,  Monica

 

Hi Monica,

Thanks for the photos.  This is a good workable shelter for mason bees when there are no other structures around to attach your nests.    Others who work in community gardens might very well use this idea themselves.   I recommend taking the nest down until early spring when you set out your bee cocoons to avoid any winter mishaps.

 Frank wrote yesterday:

 Hi Margriet .. am forwarding an email (in mauve below) with images that I recently distributed to all the folks on my “Bee Team” concerning woodpecker damage on Galiano Island.  I think you will find them interesting.  
 
 Do you get many reports of this sort of thing, or do you have such problems with your own nesting boxes?
I hope the summer has gone well for you,
Cheers,   Frank
 
 
 
Subject: Woodpecker damage on Galiano Island
 
Hi Everyone ..  in response to my earlier email about the possibility of woodpecker damage to our nesting boxes, Paul brought two of his boxes to me from Galiano Island, where they had been thoroughly pillaged by woodpeckers.
 
One puzzling thing is that we have flickers and downies in our garden all year round, but never have any of them shown any interest in the nesting boxes.  And the site on Galiano where the damage was done has escaped predation for years. 
 
Anyway, that’s just one more element of mystery surrounding the life of our bees.
 
I’ve attached four images, one overall image of each of the two nesting boxes, and one detail of the worst damage on each one.  It looks as if the woodpecker(s) managed to clean out the front end of every gallery, even those where it(they) did not enlarge the opening i.e. there is not a single gallery left with chambers right up to the front entrance.  As far as I can tell, the first two or perhaps three chambers are gone, particularly in the enlarged openings.
 
Just how much damage has been done won’t be evident until we open them up in November.
 
It’s a jungle out there!
 
Cheers,
 
f.
 
By the way, if you are wondering what the markings are on the fronts of the nesting box trays, there is some evidence that decorating them in some way makes it a little easier for the females to find the galleries they are working on.  It’s not uncommon to see a female come back to the nesting box from a pollen-gathering or mud-gathering trip and enter a gallery, only to pop out immediately and go to a different one. Sometimes it takes more than two tries before she lands where she wants to be”
 
Hi Frank- these are good examples of wood pecker damage 🙂  and yes I receive these type  of reports nearly every year.
I think you are lucky a pileated woodpecker has not found these nests.  These giants can demolish whole mason bee homes.
 
From the look of the hole- depth, this woodpecker is likely to be the hairy or downy woodpecker.   You mentioned that they have not been predated on before.  this might be because of food availability.  Early in the spring, I have seen damage from bears, where they actually lick out the pollen lumps!  You would not think it would be worth it, but food must have been scarce at the time.
 
One easy way of protecting the nest from wood peckers is the hang them facing inwards- in July when flight has ceased.  Or you can protect them  with a predator guard.   Be aware that the predator guard has to be a good inch away from the face of the nesting tunnel.  Wire screen is NOT too successful.  I think  wire is usually too thin for the bee to see the wire when they come barreling in towards the nest.
 
If my nests are not protected in some way, woody woodpeckers are sure to find them here at home.
 
Oh by the way- I think the nests are still good to use- and the trimmings will assist bees to orient towards their nesting tunnels.  I would sand these rough chipped holes though.
 
 Margriet
 
reply from Frank:

Thanks for the suggestions of turning the boxes around or using predator guards.  Dick S. was very faithful about turning his boxes around each season, I know.  And I’ll pass along your comment about reusing the damaged trays.  You’re quite right that except for the one that was enlarged to the size of a loonie, they just look like someone had taken a countersink bit to them  I think that bird (or those birds) worked awfully hard for what they got!
 
I’ll let you know what we find when we open them up in November.
 
 

 

Honey bee on Pineapple mint

Pineapple mint

Mints are very attractive group of plants for bees because it produces lots of nectar. 

The cone like flower structures of the pineapple mint consist of numerous florets that open, starting at the base of the cone.  It takes about 3-4 weeks for all  florets to open.

 

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