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Monday, April 30, 2012

Langley orchard with yurt in mid April

In mid- April, a few trees were in bloom.  Mostly the crabapples and other pollinizers.  The yurt is in the background.  We set out 1200 cocoons with 650 nesting tunnels- about 1 nesting hole per female in 9 Highrises.

Blooming crabapple with Yurt in background.

I installed ten highrises inside this yurt for a start.
 The emergence shelters containing the cocoons sit on top of each highrise.
 Between 100-200 cocoons are in each emergence shelter.
 In two weeks time I will add more highrises and cocoons.

I use hooks to hang Highrises on the uprights of the Yurt.

Home Yurt- males and females emerging

Here is a picture of my friend Ella looking at male and female mason bees milling around the entrance of their emergence shelter( upper left).  She had never seen them so close.  She watched them emerge from their little box or emergence shelter, several matings and extensive grooming by the males after mating.  Even though it was 14C outside the yurt, temperatures inside the yurt reached 18C.  This is a good temperature for emergence, mating and the females to fly off to find a food source nearby.

The home yurt is filled with nests and mason bee cocoons as the season progresses.  When there is lots of food and bees, the whole yurt is filled.  In this home yurt, few bees and nests have been set out at the onset
 of the season.

Ella watching mason bees emerge and mate.

Close-up of male mason bees outside their emergence shelter.

full view of Home-yurt with Ella inside watching the bees emerge.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mason Bee release shelter-for large number of cocoons

When I have large numbers of cocoons, I often use trays.  There are about 2000 cocoons on this tray. One tray is turned over to act as a lid.  Trays are offset by 1/4" so that emerged bees can exit.  Duct tape or strong rubber bands are used to keep trays in position.

Using 1x1 sticks and set between a couple of highrises, a structure is created to hold trays at the upper level of the yurt, but not under the center hole of the roof.

Base tray holds about 2000 cocoons

Two trays are held in place with duct tape.

Two trays offset to create a 1/4" gap.

In the sun or out?

I chatted with a new mason beekeeper today who was confused about directions on a flyer, the web and various other sources.  He had bought some mason bee cocoons from a store and the flyer instructed him not to set the package of cocoons out in the sun.  Then further down, directions were to set the house with the nesting tunnels in the sun.  How confusing!

When bees are still in their cocoons and cannot move about, do not set box of cocoons in direct sun.  The heat of the sun could cook them while they are still in their cocoons.  The best place for cocoons are within the shelter of a mason bee home under the roof- away from direct sun- but nice an warm.

The house for mason bees should go into a sunny spot.  Bees like to be warm when working and young offspring need the heat to move, eat and develop into adults.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mason Bee Field Shelter- Yurt in Mt Vernon

An organic apple orchard is a great place for mason bees.  No worry about pesticide applications.

When we arrived, we noticed that dandelions were out, but apple blossoms were still closed.  The perfect time to set up the bees so they can emerge and gt ready for pollinating the fruit trees.  It was a very cold rainy day when we set this up a couple of weeks ago.  Brrrrr!!

We arrived at the orchard with the top of the yurt and the base-hexagon pieced together.  Both hexagons were marked out to indicate where  the vertical uprights had to placed and screwed to make the frame.  
This is important, since the spacing of the uprights maximizes the number of Highrises that can be placed at one level.  Nine Highrises can be set at each level.  There is enough height in the yurt for 4 levels.  We started with 3 uprights balancing the base and the roof, and added the remaining uprights soon after.

We then dug some dirt to cover the base of the tarp.  This prevents wind from getting into the yurt and creating a draft.

We finished the yurt by stapling the tarp around the yurt.

Tim has just finished using 4 screws to hold each upright in place,
2 at the top and two at the base.   I attached the tarp with staples
to the upper and lower hexagon and then covered the tarp at the base with dirt.

Completed Yurt.  You can see that the wind is pushing
 the tarp against the uprights.

We left the hole we created so that bees could easily get mud for making
their nest partitions.

Dandelion flowers-food for bees!

Here on the west coast of British Columbia, my favourite flower came out in abundance.  It is a wonderful plant that provides both pollen and nectar to bees when there is little else for them to forage on early spring.  One day, this beautiful plant will be encouraged in lawn and gardens!

Dandelion flowers
In this field, many dandelions provide an abundance of food for bees
in early spring before apple blossoms appear (apple orchard in background).

Friday, April 13, 2012

Early April

We have been busy shipping mason bee cocoons and mason bee homes to our customers.  There is always lots to do.  Over Easter we visited our family on the Sunshine Coast.  I was alerted to a store sign about Mason bees.  I drove to the Sunshine Coast Nursery and took a photo of their great sign.  The photos is slightly out of focus, but here is what it says


What a great sign to let people know that mason bees are being sold at this store.

 I hope everyone is enjoying our wonderful spring weather.  Margriet

Monday, April 2, 2012

Tell others that even low levels of pesticides can be damaging to bee populations

Here is an article of great importance.  It describes two studies with a commonly used pesticide that show a serious effects on bumble bee populations.

Read more