NOTE: I do not have Mason Bee Cocoons available for sale in 2018, however I can provide the stems of the native reed Phragmitesaustralis which are considered to be the best tubes for encouraging the native mason bee pollinators. By putting out the tubes alone without releasing bees, you can in some areas attract the native pollinators anyway.
I package these in lots of 30 now for $15.00 plus shipping costs. Included are a variety of lengths and diameters if you want. Smaller diameters attract other mason bee species. Indicate the maximum tube length you prefer when ordering. Ordering by Paypal is acceptable or you may pick them up at our farm in Metchosin on Southern Vancouver island.
Price for 30 tubes=$15..00
GST and PST= $1.75
packaging and shipping= $2.70
Total = $19.35.. use the paypal button below:
Price for 60 tubes= $30.00
GST and PST = $ 3.50
packaging and shipping= $2.70
Total= $ 36.10…Use the paypal button below:
I am short of mason bee cocoons this year, but even if you can’t get a source for bees this year, you can set out some of these tubes placed in a suitable re-purposed home made from a PVC pipe (or see other homemade suggestions if you scroll down through postings here), and you will probably attract native mason bees.
Cindy, one of my regular mason bee customers has had to move East and she was so dedicated to her mason bees that she left them with me to look after. She had run a small experiment in her bee box that I thought would be useful to comment on here.
Today I opened the tubes to remove the Cocoons for storage over winter in the refrigerator.
On first glance, the plastic containers appear to have a good number of successful plugged tubes. When the plastic containers were opened however, it was obvious that mites had taken a large toll on the cocoons:
I was interested in comparing the productivity of the phragmites tubes versus the plastic tubes so I kept track of the number tubes, the number of cocoons and the number of tubes with parasitic mites. Here are the results:
Number of plastic tubes: 24 — Number of phragmites tubes: 18
Number cocoons in plastic=108 — Number cocoons in phrag= 91
Ave. number -plastic tube=4.5—-Average number-phrag.tube =5
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
I 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.
So he thinks there are actually three species represented in these pictures.
Eumenines prey mainly upon moth larvae, although some take larvae of leaf-feeding beetles.
Adults take nectar.
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.
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.
Today I came across two unopened reed tubes which I had forgotten in the refrigerator so the cocoons had not hatched out. The image below shows why it is important to clean your tubes out in the winter and not leave them until late spring.
If people leave mason bee homes out unattended from year to year, the parasite population expands . They wouldn’t be so successful in the wild where mason bee nests are more dispersed in holes in wood or under tree bark. . When we provide homes for them however, along with increasing the bee population, we are also multiplying the success of the parasites. So if we are going to encourage bee populations, it is our responsibility to attend to the cocoons in the fall or winter to be sure they are not contaminated with a new generation of mites.
The photo above is of one of the better colonized box of tubes from the summer of 2015. Each mud-sealed tube in this box will contain on average 5 mason bee cocoons.
In the lower section of the box shown below, several mud plugs are of lighter colour and a smoother texture. I have found that these ones are colonized completely by another bee, I thought they may probably be resin bees , but now I have found out they are from the Subfamily Eumeninae (Potter and Mason Wasps):
Dragonfly nymphs in their last instar crawl up the stems of pond plants where the adult emerges . I see many exoskeletons still clinging to the stems:
INSTAR: An instar ( i/ˈɪnstɑr/, from the Latin “form”, “likeness”) is a developmental stage of arthropods, such as insects, between each moult (ecdysis), until sexual maturity is reached. Arthropods must shed the exoskeleton in order to grow or assume a new form. ( Wikipedia)