Mason Bees for Sale: Spring 2017

I now have mason bee cocoons available to be picked up at our farm for the Spring Season, 2017.  You can email or phone ahead to arrange a time to get them:  Osmia lignaria

 

Currently they have been cleaned and are refrigerated.

Phragmites reed tubes now available: $16.00 for 2 dozen

Costs for this year for two dozen packets are as follows:
24 Cleaned Mason Bee Cocoons = $15.00
24 Phragmites reed tubes= $15.00

For Culturing, I also sell dried natural Phragmites reed grass stem tubes which I harvest from our wetland. I find that these tubes are the the most efficient type of tube for attracting mason bees and reducing parasite infection.

Also inexpensive re-purposed material houses are available.

Another Pallet design holding 4 dozen tubes. This website shows how to use only pallets that are chemically safe

I also have a selection of re-purposed materials bee houses complete with phragmites tubes installed . These range from $30.00 to $50.00. But I would really encourage you to make your own so samples for ideas will be available.

I am also already planning on attending the following Seedy Saturdays where I will have a display and the blue orchard bees for sale. (click on for links)

January 14: Saanich Seedy Saturday
February 4: Qualicum Beach Seedy Saturday.
February 18: Victoria Seedy Saturday.
February 25: Sooke Seedy Saturday
March 4 : Comox Valley Seedy Saturday
 

March 5 : Nanaimo Seedy Sunday

 

Washing Mason Bee Cocoons

After removing the cocoons from their tubes, it is important to give then a good wash to get rid of mites.  I do not use a bleach solution as some do, as I don’t think it is a very natural product and incorrect concentrations could have harmful effects.. I have no problem controlling the mite population either. .. I use three changes of lukewarm water in a large container. Then scoop them out by hand and dry on paper towels before putting in a plastic peanut butter jar in the fridge to hibernate until bloom time.

 

Time to Clean Out the Mason Bee Boxes

I had moved all my Mason Bee Boxes inside in the late summer so am now extracting  the cocoons and cleaning them up for storage in the refrigerator.

I was surprized how successful the longest tubes which I used (9 inches),  have been this season. Below is a picture  showing the number of cocoons I am regularly obtaining from these long tubes .

 

 

 

 

 

Feedback from a satisfied Mason Bee customer

Feedback from a satisfied customer:

On Sun, Nov 6, 2016 at 12:29 PM, Cindy wrote:

Hi Garry!

Success!! we took apart the tubes and the plastic tubes from our mason bee house. Our first year and we started with 36 cocoons from you and ended up with 141!
We’ve brushed them off nicely and have them settled in a wee container in the fridge.. here are a few pictures for you.
we found, in one tube, a small fly and assumed it must be a parasitic wasp?? Anyways..enjoy the pictures and we will get in touch to get some more tubes in the spring 🙂

Keep Predators Away from Mason Bee Tubes

I had a report recently from a mason bee  enthusiast telling me that his mason bee colony had been attacked by rats and most of the cocoons had been taken. These images show what happened. One thing I note in the pictures is that the house wqas on a fence with a platform in front of the bank of tubes. It is best to have nothing that birds or rodents can stand on, and that might have prevented this type of predation.  If one is concerned at this time of year, it would be a good idea to gently fasten a fine mesh wire screen to the opening of the box, or since the activity of the bees is probably finished, moe the house to a cooler safe location — gently because you want to be sure that the bee eggs have been secured into the food matrix.

Identification of Wasp Larvae from Mason Bee tubes

Wings held partly erect.
Wings held partly erect.

In the previous post I indicated I was trying to identify wasps that had taken up residence in mason bee tubes, without actually parasitizing the mason bees

 

 

largewasplarvaeI found the larvae in tubes while removing the mason bee cocoons in the winter, and transferred them to a separate jar where I  let them hatch. By May 1 they were hatching so after taking a few pictures, I sent the images off to BugGuide.

The result after several months was an identification by an expert in entomology : Our thanks to  Matthias Buck of  The Invertebrate Zoology Section, Royal Alberta Museum, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
http://bugguide.net/node/view/1218699#2158789

So he thinks there are actually three species represented in these pictures.

Food
Eumenines prey mainly upon moth larvae, although some take larvae of leaf-feeding beetles.
Adults take nectar.
Classification

Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon (Aculeata – Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
Superfamily Vespoidea (Yellowjackets and Hornets, Paper Wasps; Potter, Mason and Pollen Wasps and allies)
Family Vespidae (Yellowjackets and Hornets, Paper Wasps; Potter, Mason and Pollen Wasps)
Subfamily Eumeninae (Potter and Mason Wasps)
Genus Ancistrocerus

There were three species identified from my photographs( labelled above) although it is very difficult to confirm identity without being able to examine a specimen. Next year I will be sure to send him samples to confirm, and I will certainly not destroy these larvae when cleaning out mason bee tubes.

Plants for Pollinators in late May 2016

The mason bees have almost stopped their work of pollination by now.  However several bumblebee species and honey bees were very active around certain plants in the yard this week.

Wasp larvae in mason bee tubes yields newly hatched adults.

2015-12-22wasplarve2When cleaning out the mason bee tubes and recovering cocoons in the winter, I came across several tubes which had been completely colonized by another species of bee/wasp. Images and comments on this can be found in this post:

So now I am trying to get this species identified and will update when I find out. June 6 post shows the identification

newwasp5
Unidentified wasp/bee :Currently under inquiry with the experts.

 

At first I thought these were the paper wasps as they held their wings outspread but the image below of those wasps from the Polistinae family shows a completely different body pattern. Dr. Matthias Buck of the Royal Edmonton Museum is working on samples of these to do DNA sequencing.