This blog includes: management tips on how to keep mason bees, stories and pictures from other mason bee keepers, trends in the industry, research news, interesting links, review of products, events and other interesting items.
I have been a biologist since I was a kid. Then I became a "bee biologist". From bees in my garden to studying them at Simon Fraser University, I still find bees fascinating. Pollination with bees also became a focus when I studied pollination of blueberries. My journey with bees continued into the business world. In 1999 I started my company Beediverse Products and developed a line of products to keep mason bees. I first developed a successful method for harvesting mason bee cocoons and then I developed a line of products including: book,DVD, poster,mason bee homes and tools.
Now, my main interest and enthusiasm is focused on figuring out how to best manage mason bees and produce them by the billions. For this reason we are continually testing new ideas, widgets and gadgets for making the job of keeping mason bees easier and more successful.
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.
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:
“Subject: Woodpecker damage on Galiano IslandHi 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.Margrietreply 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.
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.
During the summer months there are a lot of bees out there, but look closely- some of these bees are tiny (6mm 1/4″ long).
Bonnie, my web master showed me how to crop and enlarge with Adobe.
I have been having a lot of trouble with focusing on these small bees. I am using Fujifilm EXR camera. Yesterday I was playing around with focusing on some text. I pressed the shutter down half-way, and the camera focused to 2″ away from the subject. Amazing. Then I released the shutter- and it focused back to the default. I did not realize that I should continue pressing the shutter to take the focused picture. I thought it would hold the focus until I partially depressed the shutter again. But not so. So now with renewed knowlege, I will see what I can find in the garden today.
Since I expected another sunny day today. I made sure my flowers were well watered, so they could make nectar for any visiting bee.
I was showing my 9 year old grandson a trick or two about photography this summer.
For a long time, photography of flowers were a mystery to me until I learned that a black or dark background and low angled light (early morning or late evening or winter light) works rather well. It also works if the background is not distracting and adds to the story.
A good camera and the right settings help as well of course.
This yellow Anemone flowers all summer. This one found a tiny crack between the wall of my carport and asphalt driveway.
The mauve Aster blooms in late summer and insects, in particular bees love it. If it is watered regularly, nectar is produced, making it a very attractive plant for insects. Cropping this photo using Adobe would also help, but I have not mastered this yet!