It has been so cool in the last month here in Metchosin that my mason bees have almost missed the peach and nectarine blooming time.
Update–April 15: Today they were the most active i have seen them . I started putting a few cocoons out a week ago, and have warmed up some indoors by just removing their containers from the fridge and then setting the jar out in the daytime when the sun is on them. Anyway a very unusual cold start for the spring.
I have several kinds of houses placed on the South East corner of our house.
The time to put out your mason bees which have been overwintered in your refrigerator is when you need them to do their work. I release mine in batches. The first batch was several weeks ago when the peaches and nectarines were in bloom. This week, the pears, plums and cherries are in bloom so I just put out another batch of cocoons near my bee homes. I will save the last batch for my apple trees which bloom later.
I had to transplant this peach tree this year to the corner of the vegetable preparation building so I found another good spot to place a bee home.
I produced the poster below to identify my location at the seedy Saurdays. A big thankyou to all who were willing to get engaged with raising mason bees and I encourage all those who buy my bees and tubes to give me feedback on their experience with raising them.
So look for the following poster at my table above the Live Mason Bee display box:
Now sold out for the 2016 season- there’s always next year!
Many garden and on-line supply outlets sell cocoons of the most efficient pollinator, the mason bee, for a much higher price. I can provide them now locally until the end of March for $6.00 per dozen as supplies last.
Mason Bees (also known as blue orchard bees) can be picked up at our farm if only a few dozen are needed or for significantly large orders we may be able to arrange for refrigerated delivery within the BC lower mainland/Vancouver Island area any time this spring. They can either be released in late February or March for early flowering peaches etc. or they can be held refrigerated until as late as June for release coinciding with the blooming times of other plants: blueberries, strawberries, apples, pears, cherries etc.
You can place orders now and arrange for pickup now or later by e-mailing.
NOTE OF CONCERN: As a former Biology teacher, I am concerned that websites advertising mason bees to send anywhere on the continent are making a big mistake in promoting population genetic contamination. As well as competing with local strains, introduced genetic lines could easily turn out to promote problems such as new parasite introduction and elimination of naturally evolved species . So be sure to ask your supplier where they have originated, in order to be sure you are getting bees have been cultured from natural varieties from your own area. That’s why I would sell only to Vancouver Island or the lower mainland of British Columbia. I have never bought mason bees. Fortunately I live in an agricultural are which avoids the use of pesticides, so native bees still thrive. My native mason bees from our farm found the first nest boxes I put up on their own, and it is from them that I continue to produce new cocoons each year.
Garry Fletcher: email to garryf use the at sign gmail.com (Jan. 2016)
Last year with the long warm season, our mason bees on the farm were successful in filling a large number of reed tubes with cocoons. Now I am removing them from the tubes, cleaning them and storing in the refrigerator until release time from the end of February until the end of June. I will be selling them locally again for a price much below that of commercial outlets and they are available immediately at the price of $6.00 per dozen cocoons.
Also, one of my last year’s clients showed me the mason bee house he had made with cutting channels in wood. He also included a section with reed grass tubes which I had given to him to try out. The comparison was quite astounding, as can be seen in this photograph with a definite preference for the Phragmites reed grass tubes being demonstrated.
I will be selling a limited number of these reed tubes for $5.00 a dozen this year.
Contact me at this e-mail: garryf (use the @sign) then add gmail dot com.