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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Move your subscription to our Beediverse Blog at its new site.

If you are a member of this blog and receive notifications of new posts, you can now subscribe to our blog at its new location on the Beediverse web site.

Go to our Beediverse blog by clicking on

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and add your email address in the Subscribe window in the right hand corner of the blog home page.
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Friday, August 17, 2012

Beediverse Blog moved to beediverse.com

Hi Everyone,
This blog will now be continued within the Beediverse web site.
click on.BeeDiverse BLOG

See you there.
Margriet

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Cocoons in cotton-like material

From: Harriet W
Subject: weird yellow fluffy substance found

Message Body:
When I was recently taking down my mason bee hotels and houses, I found a yellow fluffy substance in several of the boxes.  It seems almost like wall insulation.  One seemed to have cocoons in it.

Do you know what this is?  Should I just clean the cacoons and boxes as usual with Chlorox? Do I just throw this stuff away?  leave it in the recycle?

 I have tried to take the pictures and enclose them here.  One is clearly in the well for the new cocoons, the other (with several pieces) comes from within one of the houses.  I am quite curious about what you think they are.  I also cannot determine whether they are beneficial to my bees, or not: ex. should I try to "clean" the ones that seem to have some solid masses within?
 
Many thanks for your time. 


Hi Harriet- Others have found this type of insect in their mason bee homes.  I usually place odd things like this in an emergence box, so I can re-examine it early next spring.  We are still not sure what it is.

Saltspring Island apple festival web site.

This is an awesome achievement.  This web site is a great resource for people who want to learn more about apple varieties. 
 
New Salt Spring Island Apple Festival website includes over 1000 photos from the 2011 event

We are delighted to connect you with the Salt Spring Island Apple Festival like you have never been before.  7 photographers captured this great little event, each in their own way, and collectively they documented this festival in a very powerful way.  For the first time, we can show you their efforts, on this new website.


Although we are still tuning up and adding to this website, I figured it was time to show it off.

Note:  For most of the people working at Apple Festival, and especially the farmers who are on their farm for the entire day, this website is their only chance TO SEE THEIR OWN FESTIVAL.  They do not know what goes on at any other farm.  I just love that paradox.  

As we gear up for Apple Festival # 14, on Sunday, Sept 30, I invite you to share our great little festival.
Harry Burton

Thanks Sue -for sharing these great photos.

Honey bee on thistle

Bumble bee Bombus vosnechenskii on thistle- Chilliwack BC

Enough air to breathe...

from Denise S.
I've often wondered how mason bees, both in the wild and in provided nesting tubes, get enough air to breathe as they develop.  The chambers are divided by mud that even pollen mites can't get through, and are surrounded by wood or thick cardboard.  Where does their oxygen come from?

On Jul 21, 2012, at 6:01 PM, Margriet Dogterom wrote:

When bees hibernate, their metabolism slows down and they need very little air.  I presume, there is always some air transfer amongst the mud particles.

Thank you so much for your prompt reply, Dr. Dogterom. 
Denise.

Early August update

Summer is well on the way now.  Summer mason bees are about, collecting pollen from various summer flowers like Oregano.  These bees are a lot smaller than spring mason bees, but are often the same blue-black colour.

In July, I took all my nests down from various sites and have placed them inside net bags and under cover.  I opened one of the nests, and cocoons are fully developed.

More recently I have been busy creating more video clips for a number of products, so that it is easy to see how the product works.  When they are on the web site, I will place the links on this blog.

In the meantime, a lot of mason bee keepers have emailed me some great photo-stories.  I will be posting these over the next couple of weeks.
 Have a great summer! Margriet


On the left is a photo of newly emerged  males.  On the right, note the paper wasp nest hanging on the inside of a Beediverse Royal house.  These wasps do not create a paper cover for their nests. This wasp nest never seems to get larger than about 50 individuals.  What a perfect place for a predatory wasp.  Food at their doorstep!  When you see them in your bee house- remove them.  Thank you for the photos Margaret.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Spring and summer - bees and flowers-Sue Thompson




Thanks Sue.  They are great shots!

Honey bee on Dandelion


Bumble bee on Senecio spp.

Honey bee inside a poppy

Fly  ( no antennae) on a succulent.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Clover- summer flowers


Bumble bee male ( yellowish head) on red clover.
Photo credit-Ian Lane- with permission
 Clover is probably the most abundant and best producer of nectar available to bees within the city and into the suburbs.  Of course blackberry is another great flower for bees since it also produces lots of nectar.

July- Mason Bees are still flying.

Bumble bees on summer flowers

Summer flowers

Bumble bee- Bombus vosnechenskii

Summer flowers

What is so neat about these bees flying into July is that they are flying and nesting in a nectar and pollen rich time period.  As a beekeeper we know that spring is a time when nectar and pollen is abundant for nesting.  This period is followed June, which is usually a dearth period.  In June, food in the form of pollen and nectar is scarce.  Early spring flowers have finished blooming and summer flowers are still developing.  Therefore, June is normally a very difficult period for mason bees to survive and not starve since they do not store honey( unlike the honey bees).  Thus, surviving through to July is quite the miracle!  the surviving mason bees  are now again in a bountiful period, when blackberry, fireweed and other summer flowers produce lots of pollen and nectar.

Early July- Time to protect Nests from parasitic wasps?

 Hello,
 It July 8/12. Is it too early to put a cloth bag over  mason bee boxes to keep out predators?
We are in Comox, Vancouver Island. - Margaret 
Hi Margaret,
Yes it is time, BUT some bees may still be flying! 
I just visited 2 sites today and in both yurt field structures, bees were still flying in and out of their nests. 
Tomorrow, I will go back to these two sites, and remove all the release shelters- to avoid additional parasitic wasps that might still need to emerge.
I will also bring a battery powered bug killer- like a small tennis racket with an electric battery driven electric zapper.  This should get rid of most of the active parasitic wasps.  In another 2 weeks, I will check again, and all, if not most mason bees will have quit by then.  At this time I will place a net bag around each nest to prevent parasitization by the little wasps.
It is quite amazing to see these critters still flying into mid July.-Margriet
 This is my yurt field structure in Bellingham WA.  It is fully laden with highrises and a lot of the tunnel are filled by mason bees.  Today we removed all the release shelters.  Quite a few bees were flying in and out of the nests...more in a subsequent blog.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Plants

Stephen D. writes- I'm on a steep learning curve, what with 3 types of bees. I created havoc with my mason bees, having to move the nests several times. A few bees managed to find a home, many more took off. I believe you wrote about this, so I was prepared.  Nests are now in place permanently.  Thanks for the great service you provide.
My question, is there a plant or plants that flowers at this time, that are favored by bees? I have Japonica, heather and Siberian Bugloss. They are now out of bloom, as are wild blue bells. Please suggest some options. I would opt for perennial with low growing habit.
Also, do I put my leaf cutter cocoons out after a period of 20 degree C weather? Is there a recommended period?
Thanks.

Hi Stephen,  Great to hear you are having so much fun with all these
critters!!
Right now in my garden poppies are seeing lots of bee activity
blueberries rhodos.
I am not a plant person, but I have got a lot of bee attractive plants on
my blog.  Once you get there, there is a search window.  Type the word <plants>
You will get a variety of blogs about plants.
http://www.beediverse.blogspot.com/
Another great source is to go to a garden center when it is sunny and let
the local bees tell you which plants are bee attractive plants.
Let me know if you find some good ones

Set leafcutter bee cocoons out in June as temperatures increase into the 20C range
Margriet

Thanks. I went to the nursery today and looked for the bees. I came home
with a butterfly bush.
Thanks again.  Stephen D.

Nest types- which is better?


Hi

'Original'
I’ve had a problem with bees released returning to my nest tubes. Attached are two photos of my boxes. I released about 20 in the setup named “original” and only one bee nested there. I’m going to try the setup named “latest” and was wondering if you think either or both should work? Thanks Norman Z


'Latest'

Hi Norman,  These are beautifuly constructed homes for mason bees.  Both should work.  At some locations there are lots of nesting places for mason bees such as cedar shingles and often mason bees use these over the ones we set up.  The only way that I know to get them to use your nests is over a year or two, increase the number of mason bees that are produced.  I noticed that the 'Latest' home is set on a post.  This works fine, but in cool springs, this location would be a lot colder than a site like on a wall and be a lot less attractive than the home on a warm East facing wall.   All these facts make an impact on successful nesting of mason bees.  Sometimes it is difficult to figure out why the population is not building up and it could be as simple as a few bird predators.  Try different locations and homes and slowly build up their numbers.-Margriet



Great reports and photos

Hi Margriet...

I was fascinated with all the great reports and photos on latest blog...
thanks...and thanks to all those who share their experiences with these
little critters...However I didn't see the photo of   "red color on cell
surface"...<this story is on the next page>..I was delighted with the bumble bee story as I did enjoy daily
visits from bumbles to my plants on the little balcony and the hover fly
hunting for aphids ...learning about and watching the  Mason Bees has
encouraged me to sit quietly and was able to witness  other wonders more
carefully...including the weather...I have 3 nests filled and was awed when
the few bee I had were able to survive several cool wet days...this fall
will be my first experience harvesting and cleaning cocoons and I have a
milk carton with reeds to attached to the window frame hoping to encourage
bees hatching from my bedroom window weep hole next year (as they have done
for the past 4 years) to use reed nests.

Have a great summer

Diane

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Beediverse DVD :)

Hi, Bee Diverse,

I work at an ecological non profit in Vancouver at which we keep mason bees.  I just finished watching your DVD, All About Mason Bees, and I wanted to thank you for making such a fantastic informative video.  The infra red footage was really spectacular.  As the video began, I thought to myself - "But what is it like IN the cell?  How does the bee pack the pollen and the mud?  What does it look like?"  And then, voila!  That footage was amazing!

Thanks so much,
Kristjanne V
 

Mason Bees nest under a table cloth

Close up of pollen lumps with their bee larvae. 
You can see the mud chambers at the top of the picture, still attched to the shelf -cover,
 including another pollen lump with another larvae.

Shelves with a cover where mason bees
had made their nests.

Hey Margriet:

I thought you would get a kick out of these pictures, Mom noticed a lump of something under the cover on the shelves on the back porch. When she lifted the cover up low and behold they had layed eggs under the cover that had a bulge in it. Too bad they were destroyed but at least there are good pictures of an egg developing on a ball of pollen. Feel free to use these pics if you want to. As far as my stock for this season I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will have enough to sell this coming year.

Cheers Dave 

Chickadees are predators of mason bees

Hi Margriet,

I took the images of the Quicklock trays in the Highrise that have popped open.
As you can see there are a few empty holes now that previously had been full. It must be the chickadee as you suggested.

Do you think it is too risky for me to try to tape it tight again? I dont want to squish them but they are completely exposed now.

Your bee-loving friend, Eve


Hi Eve, I would not try and tape the nesting trays at this stage.  When they are done flying turn the trays so they are facing inwards- then the chickadees can't get at the larvae.
Margriet

Quicklock Trays in a HIghrise showing tape has loosened
around nesting trays.
Brilliant!

That's why you have a Phd  and I don't. :-)

Interesting observations

There are so many neat observations by folks...keep them coming.

John's Field Shelter with a blue tarp



Hi Margriet , here are photos of this years Hutch/Field Shelter at home. Thought that you may be interested in the design. Will sent pictures of another unit I have in White Rock when I get a chance to get out there. Note that I am using a blue tarp , it absorbs more heat than other colors. Bees do not care. John
Outside view of John's Field Shelter
Inside view of John's Field Shelter
Tarp is kept tight by nailing a piece of lath over the tarp.

Parasitic wasps of Mason Bees?

From Norm Z.
Can you ID these insects for me? If so what are it’s nesting habits? Thanks



Here they are-lovely photos- any body know what species these wasps are?  Probably parasitic types, since they are hanging around the mason bee nests.-Margriet