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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Osmia californica cocoons

Osmia californica cocoons are yellowish with bright orange frass (fecal pellets)
Osmia californica cocoons

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Osmia californica - Richard W. Rust

The Wasmann Journal of Biology  (Vol 32 no 1 1974) has an excellent article on a variety of bee species including Osmia californica.  It includes range maps of Osmia species. The known distribution of Osmia californica is in western North America and eastwards to Montana and Colorado (including British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho,Wyoming, Utah, Nevada) but not in Arizona or New Mexico. 
Female color is metallic blue black, legs black to reddish black.  The mandibles have 4 teeth.
Male is black to metallic blue black. 
The male and female varies from entirely black to black with white tufts and areas of intermixed black and white.
It appears as early as May in the southern and warmer location and as late as August in higher altitudes.

Biology:  The egg is located in the center of the pollen store, with the store usually filling the cell.  The cell and plug partitions are constructed of small pieces of masticated leaf and mud.  The amount of leaf varied from 1% to 50% of the partition.  The partitions were tough, with the outer surface shallowly concave and smooth.  The inner surface was rough and the spiral ring construction was easily seen.

Pests of mason bees- in colour

This is a great link to view coloured photos of mason bees pests.

Link to coloured photos of mason bee pests

Osmia californica bee photos

Finding anything written about Osmia californica is not easy.  Although I found an article written on californica by M. D. Levin, his scientific article was published in the Journal of Kansas Entomological Society, 1966.  Unless you are affiliated with a university, only the abstract is available.  I will write a summary of the article when I get the full article.  But I did find a great web site with good and very detailed photos of Osmia californica.  Link to photos of Osmia californica

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Amsterdam Nursery Mason Bee Harvesting Workshop-with Dr. Margriet Dogterom

This free workshop is a great way to harvest your mason bee cocoons and learn about this fascinating hobby. 

More than 50 people have already signed up and it should be a lot of fun learning about the different ways that people keep and manage mason bees.

I will be there to lend a hand with identifying the various insects that can be found in mason bee nests.
Come and join the fun at this yearly event.
See you there!

Amsterdam Nursery, 19100 Dewdney Trunk Rd Maple Ridge  V3Y 2R8  BC Canada  604 465 6614

Seattle Tree Fruit Society and a key to Identify Apple Varieties

The Seattle Tree Fruit Society are putting together a great Key to identify apple varieties. 

This link will take you directly to the place where you can key out your apple variety. 
Apple Identification key

If you want to cruise through the world of apples, go to this website and click onto PHOTOS or APPLE LIST
Here you see apples in their wonderful colour.  They look good enough to eat! 

This wonderful Key takes the mystery out of apple varieties.
Whenever I go to and apple festival, I remember the colourful show, but traits of individual varieties are lost to me.  With this key, that old apple tree in the backyard can be identified.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Harvesting mason bee cocoons from Cardboard tubes with Liners-

This morning I received an email from Norm
Subject: cocoon removal
I have the cardboard tubes with liners.
 Is it possible to remove the cocoons from this type nest?"

Yes it is possible.  First try pulling out the liners.  If the liner is dry, you can remove the liner and replace the tube with a clean liner.  Unfortunately if there is any moisture, the liner absorbs moisture and breaks when you try and remove the liner.  If this happens, the cardboard tube has to be unraveled to get the cocoons out.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Launch of web site with new look and feel

My web site was launched today with two methods of secure payment options- Moneris and Paypal.  Choose either one.  It will be fun to add all those photos and videos as we go from one season to another.  If you have any questions or edits please let me know.
I did send out emails today to let my customers know that the web site had been launched.  I apologize for any duplicate emails you may have received.    Thank your in advance for your comments.  Margriet

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Apple varieties- Bessamyanka Michurina and Atrachan Red

Pastoral scene on Saltspring Island

The apple Festival was held at the old Fulford Hall- a lovely old hall.  Perfect for such a event.  Here are some photos of a few apple varieties and twin apples that I had never seen before.


Two apples joined together


Astrachan Red

Fullford Hall- location of apple festival on Saltspring Island

Friday, October 7, 2011

Innovative pest control using sheep

I am not a sheep or grain farmer, but this is welcome news.  Grazing as an alternative to pesticide applications! Link to web site

Setting-up at the Saltspring Apple Festival.

We started with an empty hall.  There were cardboard boxes filled with apples of 302 apple varieties.  Tables were set out and  apples were placed alphabetically onto the tables.  Then each variety of apples were labelled.
Tables set out to receive apples

Waiting for directions

A bag of apples ready for placement onto tables.

Tolman Sweet apples ready to set out on display tables.

The end result.  A beautiful array of 302 varieties of apples. 
A wonderful show (Photo by David Caddell)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

WA Apple tasting event this coming weekend

Here is another great event if you live in the Washington area, on the west coast of North America.  The "Sample the Apple and Pear Harvest" is on this Saturday!   ( 8 October 2011)
It starts at 11am in the fruit garden.
Come taste the different varieties we grow and hear Dave Maczuga speak
about cider.

For more details and directions click on the web link below.
NorthWest WA apple and pear fruit tasting event

Apple pies at the Saltspring Apple Festival.

 The ladies of Saltspring Island made the most delicious apple pies for the apple Festival.    By noon, pies were sold out.
Rolling out the dough

Trimming the dough

Peeling apples

Each pie had a letter for the apple
variety inside the pie.

Ready for the oven

The slice of apple pie I sampled was delicious and tasted like more! 

Ready to eat!

Ferry ride to Saltspring Island -2

It was a ferry trip to Saltspring island  under grey skies, but the views are always lovely no matter what the weather.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ferry ride to Saltspring Island Apple Festival

I am on the ferry to Salt Spring Island.  It is a nice trip.  And relaxing.  First a coffee, maybe a late..

I am really looking forward to tasting pieces of apple pie with different variety of apples.  Where else can you do that! Last time I was at the festival, there were 6 varieties of apple pie to choose from . This time there are likely going to be more varieties to choose from for tasting.  But before apple pie tasting, the community hall has to be set up with the more than 300 apple varieties.  I will have a table for setting up Quicklock trays and mason bee houses, and another table for "show and tell".  I will be doing a washing demo and show people how easy it is.

Harvesting cocoons now

I have not harvested my cocoons yet, but when I opened one for a photo op, I noticed the beginning of moisture condensing onto trays.  My trays are stored outside and under cover to keep them dry.  But under fall conditions, when moisture content in the air is high and temperatures go down, any water vapour in the air that is inside nesting tunnels condenses onto trays. This happens each fall, when there is lots of moisture in the air and temperatures start to drop. |Under these conditions, molds start growing onto the surfaces of cocoons.  |These molds do not harm the bees that are inside each cocoon, but moldy cocoons are a little more messy to clean.  

For easier harvesting and cleaning, harvest cocoons before we get too far into the wet fall, this mold growth can be prevented.  If you find mold present wash cocoons in a 0.5% bleach bath.

In other words, harvest your cocoons as soon as you can.