[NAFEX] Mason Bees [was: bumble bee as pollinator]

Mauch1 at aol.com Mauch1 at aol.com
Wed Apr 23 12:26:57 EDT 2003


I admire and respect the bumble bee, but I'm under the 
impression that the young queens leave the nests at some point 
to hibernate??  I.e. if you have a nest of bumbles one year, 
you may not have the same nest the next year.  

The advantages of Mason Bees:

Very easy to manage: They renest in the tubes they came out of 
and nearby tubes (some do "take off").  And you mostly only 
have to worry about them for about two months out of the year 
(see disadvantages).

Good pollinators:  They actually prefer Rose family plants 
(i.e. most fruit trees), to say dandelions (I've heard this is 
a problem with honeybees).  They are mostly after the pollen 
so they approach the flower from the top, as compared to 
honeybees which may approach from the side to get at the 
nectar.  

Very gentle:  I walk upto 4-5' from their nests, and have 
never been stung.  I've heard they can sting, but its more 
comparible to a mosquito bite.


Disadvantages: 

Short season: Depending on your needs this could be a factor.  
They active adult stage is effectively done by the end of 
May.  If you have something that needs pollinated towards the 
end of May or after, they won't do you much good.

New homes: You do have to provide them with new nests on a 
yearly basis to encourage them to stay and to reduce the 
amount of parasite build up.

I don't have the Blue Orchard mason bee, but the Japanese 
Hornfaced bee (both are species of the Osmia genus of bees)

If someone is interested and I get a good repopulation of bees 
(last year because of a late hard frost was a near disaster), 
I can supply a few people this fall with nests of Japanese 
Hornfaced bees.  There will be a charge.

Bee Links:
Tube Suppliers (you can build your own by drilling in wood 
[which can be very tedious] I'm experimenting with drilling in 
sumac branches):
http://www.thomasregistry.com/olc/cpti/96032p12.htm
http://www.papertube.com

Other resources including sources for bees:
http://www.loganbeelab.usu.edu/source.htm#ORCHARD BEE NESTING MATERIALS
http://www.knoxcellars.com/
http://www.pollinator.com/alt_polvendors.htm

Excellent Book:
http://www.sare.org/htdocs/bobflyer.htm

Chris Mauchline
SE PA, zone 6
40° 5' N    75° 51'W
~650 ft elevation

>Orchard mason bees seem to get alot of attention in the >gardening press.  I
>think it is time bumble bees get some respect, too.  Here's >my story to
>explain why...




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