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“Hi Margriet .. I’m a little late in sending you my usual “annual report” on the cocoon harvesting by my group this year, but it’s in progress.  I will have some interesting images and questions.  But in the meantime, I want you to see this example of some very aggressive nesting that turned up during the processing.

Here’s the story, and it’s a modified version of what I sent out to the 20 members of my sharegroup.

One of my guys took 35 of his cocoons to Duncan for his brother-in-law to set out. Which he did.  He  had a stack of five trays with eight galleries per tray.  That’s 40 galleries.  The yield from these trays was 330 cocoons!!  That gives a multiplier very close to 10 .. which is possible, ’cause I had results like this back in the late 90′s.  But in this case I’m told that there were already lots of bees flying around his brother-in-law’s garden, so he undoubtedly captured many members of the natural colony .. just like I’m doing at Ten Mile Point.

 What’s particularly interesting about this case is how aggressively the bees nested.  Image A is a side view of the five trays.  Note that the lowermost two trays don’t reach all the way to the back of the stack, leaving a gap behind them.  Note that there is also a gap between the lowermost tray and the one above it because the trays don’t stack properly.
 

Image B shows what the bees did in the gap behind the lowermost two trays. They built a sheet of chambers on the wall behind the two trays.

Image B

 

 More surprising, Image C shows the top of the lowermost tray.  Not only are many of the galleries filled, but there is a sheet of chambers on top of the tray, filling the gap that existed between it and the tray above.

Image C

 

 SO, the moral of the story seems to be … when the bees are determined to nest and conditions are right, nothing much can stop them.  And I suppose the corollary is that when the bees are NOT interested in nesting, it’s difficult to persuade them to do so.

I now have three examples of nesting boxes interacting with natural colonies.  This one, where the bees from the set-out cocoons  plus bees from the natural colony were happy to populate the nesting box together. 

The opposite situation is the nesting box and cocoons that have been set out for three years at one of our Victoria sites where there is also a natural colony, and every year so far the bees have emerged and joined the natural colony, with absolutely no interest in the nesting box. 

And the third example is a site I have in Victoria (the Ten Mile Point site referred to above)with a very large natural colony in a large garden, and where I set out nesting boxes each year and harvest lots of cocoons.

I’ll have a report on our cocoon harvesting to you soon, and by the way, please feel free to use any of these images and the ones coming with the report - with an acknowledgement of course.

Best wishes for all good things in 2014.

Frank”

Thanks Frank  awesome pictures and a great story.  Dr Margriet Dogterom

 

 

 

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