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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Langley orchard in peak bloom

Every year, I enjoy the awakening of these beautiful apple and cherry flowers.  To see 5 acres of these blossoms is an awesome sight.  These pictures barely do the sight justice.

Cherry flowers in full bloom

Vista of apple blossoms

From pinks to full bloom

Orchard with mason bee yurt in background

Leafcutter bee Kit now available.

We now have available, both the Chalet and Highrise with specifically designed nests for the leafcutter bee.  In addition, the Chalet and one of the Highrises, also has the cardboard wrap for the other small summer mason bees. With or without bees, this refuge and nesting site is a boon for increasing your summer pollinators.  At this time leafcutter bees are availabe in Canada only.

Click here to go to beediverse website

Spiders eat bees

Hello Margriet.
This is my second year with a mason bee nest. When I cracked
open my corn plastic stack to clean my nest last year I was surprised to find two
of the tunnels occupied by spiders.
I had at least 25 cocoons hatch this spring. I went out o check on the house
on Tuesday and noticed webs around the house. On closer inspection, at least
three tunnels had fine webs over the openings.
I assume the spiders prey on the bees. Am I correct? And if so, how do I get
rid of them without disturbing the entire corn plastic bee stack?


Kevin K
That is a good question.  The only way I know is to catch and remove them from the site.  This would be quite difficult I think. 
 I have seen a jumping spider catch a mason bee!  So bees beware!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What is this insect?

I'm sending you to pics of this giant that was in our campsite in Terrace BC two years ago.  You can see how big it is in comparison to the loonie.  The other pic shows more detail.
I initially though it was a bald faced hornet, but searching through the Internet, the white markings are fewer on the abdominal segments than on this specimen.  It could still be a hornet, but a different species than the bald faced hornet.  Does anyone know what it is?

Sun is out and bees are feeding

After warm temperatures in early spring, quickly followed by a cold spell lasting a good two weeks,  the sun is finally out again. 
Bees are busy foraging. Here are a few pictures of what I saw on Kale flowers. 

In the past, people have asked me whether male mason bees forage and pollinate.  I presumed they do some feeding on nectar because they would need to be energized over the two  week period that they are around.  Males probably don't do very much pollinating or moving pollen around from one flower to another because when they arrive at a flower- they do it without much movement over the flower.  Today I took picture of a male mason bee drinking nectar out of a flower.  

Male mason bee getting energized by drinking some nectar.
Note long antennae and white hairs on front of face.

Native leafcutter bee feeding on pollen and nectar.  Note stripes on abdomen (Family Megachildae).

Another tiny bee (6 mm/1/4" long) busy feeding on nectar and collecting pollen.

Home apple blossoms-early May

Spring here in Vancouver, BC, Canada was relatively warm in mid April. A lot of lot of flowers budded and bloomed.  Now, after about 2 weeks of chilling temperatures- with patches of sunshine, we are now in a warming trend.  My apple blossoms are finally coming out.  This particular apple tree is right next to the house.  Blossoms are fully open near the house.  Flowers away from the house are still in bud.  I will be checking on temperatures, inside and outside the yurt. 
Apple blossoms -pink stage

Apple blossoms- fully open and waiting for bees.

New Product-Leafcutter Bee Kit-available soon

Leafcutter bee cocoons.  Different colored cocoons are made from  leaves and petals..
Leafcutter bee Highrise
 Leafcutter Highrise-availabe soon

Extra space in the attic for storing and emerging cocoons.

Emerging cocoons in cardboard box.
A predator  guard in front of the nest
 protects nests and bees

Nests and bee cocoons behind predator guard.

In the fall-Step one- lift nest block out of Highrise.

In the fall-Step 2- push cocoons out with wooden dowel (supplied) and store in attic under roof of Highrise.

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Bumble bee on red clover. 
Photo by Ian Lane with perm.
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Langley orchard Late April

Beautifull apple blossoms
Dwarf apples in full bloom
Cherry blossom- full bloom

Just think of all the cherries!

More nests and mason bee cocoons were placed into the yurt. 
Crabapple in foreground is no longer in bloom like it was in mid April.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Packaging mason bee cocoons

Labelling cardboard boxes.
Labelled boxes ready for cocoons.

After washing cocoons they are air dried for about an hour.  Then, cocoons are candled to remove any parasitized cocoons.  Cocoons are stored in fridges until packaged, and then returned to fridges until sold.  Packages are first labelled.  Cocoons are then selected and carefully pushed into each box.  In a package of 10 there are 4 females and 6 males.

Filling boxes with cocoons. 

Boxed cocoons ready for sale.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Setting out new nests next to the old ones?

A question from Michael in Oregon.

Hi Margriet,

If I need to set out more nesting sites for the Mason bees should I put them next to existing sites, or, put them a bit away from the one’s I originally set out?

The reason I ask is that I am get many more bees to nest so far this spring compared to last year but I do not want to mess up the bees visual cues to the old sites.  I also know they like to be near each other.  Your thoughts?


I don't have the exact answer, but I think you are on the right track.  Perhaps in visual range and clustered nearby would be a good solution. -Margriet