Mason Bees for Sale: Spring 2017

( SOLD OUT for 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:
25 Cleaned Mason Bee Cocoons = $15.00
24 (now 30) 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

 

Phragmites reed grass for Mason Bee tubes

Phragmites in estuary/marsh
Last years stems of Phragmites in estuary/marsh being harvested for mason bee tubes. It is important that this is done only before new shoots start to emerge.  I have a theory that this native Phragmites exists in this marsh only because the marsh was fenced in the early years to prevent grazing by cattle and sheep. It has been eliminated from most of the other marshes in BC by grazing (personal communication with Robert Prescott-Allen). The reason this marsh was fenced was that the plant Triglochin maritima  (Sea arrow grass) grows in the marsh and it is toxic to grazers.

(http://metchosinmarine.ca/gf/triglochin-maritima/)

“Seaside arrow-grass (Triglochin maritima) is a native plant found sporadically across Canada in saline, brackish, or fresh marshes and shores. This plant contains cyanogenic glycosides, which can release HCN during mastication by animals. Poisoning occurs primarily with ruminants, including cattle and sheep. The concentration of toxic chemicals increases during times of moisture depletion (Majak et al. 1980, Cooper and Johnson 1984, Poulton 1989).”

 

 

 

Mason Bees (Blue Orchard Bees) and Tubes for Sale now.

RESERVE YOUR MASON BEES NOW

Now sold out for the 2016 season- there’s always next year!

Mason Bee
Mason Bee

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.

See other posts on the Mason Bees cocoons produced here in Metchosin at  http://www.gfletcher.ca/?cat=2

hatchedmason
Blue orchard (mason) bee just emerged from a cocoon

 

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.

 

phragmites tubes
The local reed grass, Phragmites tubes for mason bee culture.

I will also be selling a limited number of packets of the local Phragmites reed tubes for $10.00 for two dozen this year. They can be inserted in a simply made house –- see other posts on this website for suggestions.

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)

Mason Bee Homes from Natural Reed Tubes- Phragmites

The native reed grass here on Vancouver Island, Phragmites australis subsp. americanus provides the best tubes as homes for Mason bee larvae. This is from the native , non-invasive reed grass.

I am selling these for $10.00 for 2 dozen tubes. They can be used one season, then split open easily to harvest mason bee cocoons for the next years pollination season.  (and then added to your compost!)

phragmites tubes for mason beesSee other information about Phragmites and the harvest of it:

Some advantages of using Phragmites tubes over other commercially available tubes:

  • Phragmites  reeds are impervious to the parasitic wasp Monodontomerus, which can damage mason bee populations in thin straws.
  • Reeds are cut at the node providing a natural wall  providing  a plug that allows moisture to escape while preventing water from entering the reed.
  • You can build an inexpensive home by putting thes in a piece of sewer pipe or a straight walled jar, or you can assemble a wooden box to hold them. See several suggestions in the link above

Contact me to reserve your tubes for the spring 2016 season at the following e-mail:  garryf (use the at sign) gmail.com

Preparing Mason Bee tubes from Phragmites reeds.

In the past two weeks I have been cutting more Phragmites (reed grass) tubes for the mason bee homes.  Its important to get them before the new shoots emerge as they are easily trampled or cut off while you are cutting the stems. About one in 50 stems are of suitable diameter, so it does take some time to get them.  This population is one of the few left in BC.  One threory is that cattle grazing in the early years destroyed most of the native populations along the coastal estuaries.This population may have been spared because of the poisonous “arrow grass”– Triglochin sp. that is common in this marsh, so it was fenced from the early times on.

These phragmites are the native variety. In Eastern Canada however, there are populations of the introduced variety that are a serious invasive species.

The fawn lilies , Erythronium sp. are in bloom now so they can benefit from the pollination by the mason bees also.
The fawn lilies , Erythronium sp. are in bloom now so they can benefit from the pollination by the mason bees also.

I have a few of these tubes available for pickup in Metchosin. See this page re purchase:http://www.gfletcher.ca/?p=1

Harvesting Phragmites Reed grass stems from the Marsh for Mason Bee Homes..

I was fortunate to have on our property, a brackish water estuarine marsh in which grows the native Phragmites sp. reed grass.

See this file on the Gooch creek swamp which tells the story of how I had to “save” the Reed Grass beds from extirpation by the BC Forest Lands and Natural Resources Department: (FLNRO)phragmiteskalleFrom Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud. subsp. americanus I get the hollow tubes that I use for the mason bee homes. This is waht they look like in late summer.

phragmites
At this stage it is too early to cut the stems. That is best done in February

 

In about 1 in 20 plants, the stems  are the ideal size for Mason Bees.

The tubes are cut in the early spring from the lower 1 metre of the stems.

The internode lengths range from 15 cm. to 30 cm .  I select only those sections with an adequate tube diameter. 5/16 ” diameter is ideal.

Since this reed grass is not generally available, it is easiest to sandwich small plates  of wood with 5/16″ channels routered or sawn into them . There are many references on the internet that show how to do this.

See this post on Harvesting and Cleaning the Mason Bees in the fall.