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Old 01-22-2009, 10:59 PM   #11
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I'm going to quote NEWisc to save time as I now create bee blocks his way.
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The ideal hole size for mason bees (Osmia lignaria) is 5/16th inch diameter and 6 or more inches deep. A "brad point" drill bit will make nice clean holes. The female mason bee lays the new females first (in the deepest part of the hole). If the hole is at least 6 inches deep she will usually lay at least two females. If the hole is shallower, she will only lay one female. After laying the females she fills the remaining space with males. The more females, the more bees for next year. Females also do a lot more pollination because they are gathering nectar and pollen for stocking the new nests. There is an excellent and inexpensive book on mason bees available from Knox Cellars:
http://www.knoxcellars.com/Merchant5/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=KCNP&Category_ Code=BL

The ideal size for leafcutters is acutally 1/4 inch, but they will use the larger mason bee holes without complaining. A 3 - 4 inch depth for leafcutters works fine.

For the other hole nesting native bees, there really isn't enough information available yet to define the ideal hole sizes. I would encourage anyone interested in providing nesting places for these bees to experiment and find out what works best for the bees in your area. Even when there is enough data available, it is very hard to positively ID many of these species. I use 1/16th, 1/8th and 3/16th inch holes. For these small drill bits I simply drill the hole to the full depth of the bit. It's difficult to get a clean hole in these small sizes in anything other than hardwoods.

Bumblebees are great pollinators, and providing nesting places for them is a very good idea for any gardener. It's a somewhat involved process; any anyone interested in doing this would find this book to be a great help:
http://www.knoxcellars.com/Merchant5/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=KCNP&Category_ Code=BL

Beyond providing nesting places, the greatest help to native bees is a continuous source of pollen and nectar. There's no better way to do that than to use the local native plants that they have been using for thousands of years. Many of these plants (as well as the bees) may now be very scarce due to land being used for development, etc. Growing some of these plants for the bees will help them reestablish their populations and give them a better chance of survival. And that will be good for us because we will get our gardens pollinated.
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Old 01-23-2009, 02:56 PM   #12
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Thank you for sharing that, Lorax!
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Old 01-23-2009, 04:38 PM   #13
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Very interesting info, Lorax. I'm going to see if I can get some of these books from the library.
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Old 01-23-2009, 08:30 PM   #14
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You are most welcome!
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Old 01-23-2009, 09:15 PM   #15
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What native plants (New England) would be best for bees? What do you think of Bernd Heinrich's book "Bumblebee Economics"? I'm still confused...bumblebees, honeybees, sweat bees, mason bees, native bees...sometimes, when I am unfamiliar with a subject, I read a children's book to get a sense...any bee children's books?
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Old 01-23-2009, 09:20 PM   #16
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I believe you need to look to the native plant society for your state. Don't forget to check the New England Wildflower Society as I know I have seen them generate articles on the subject.

Maybe suunto can help you out with which bees are native to NH.

I had one really great children's book on bees and it is long gone.
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Old 01-23-2009, 11:26 PM   #17
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What native plants (New England) would be best for bees? ... I'm still confused...bumblebees, honeybees, sweat bees, mason bees, native bees...
There are literally thousands of species of native bees in the U.S. But don't get too over concerned about which species are native to your area. Virtually all of them will prosper with good sources of nectar and pollen, and suitable nesting sites. With respect to which native plants are the best sources of nectar and pollen, Michighan State University has done some interesting research into this:
http://nativeplants.msu.edu/results.htm

Not all of those plants will be native to your area, but for those that are, the chart is a nice easy way to get a good start on selecting native plants for bees. It shows which ones they prefer, and with the bloom time info you can select plants that will give a continuous, long bloom period. A continuous bloom will insure that you are providing pollen and nectar for whichever species is active at any time.

There's also a lot of other good information on the other menu choices on the web page linked above.
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Old 01-24-2009, 02:48 PM   #18
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Nice chart NEWisc - thanks! Good info.
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Old 01-24-2009, 07:31 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by TheLorax View Post

Maybe suunto can help you out with which bees are native to NH.
I am not that familiar with the bee fauna of new Hampshire, but the University of New Hampshire reportedly has a checklist of all the species in its insect collection. This might not be completely comprehensive, but could be a good starting point.
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Old 01-25-2009, 11:13 AM   #20
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I am not that familiar with the bee fauna of new Hampshire, but the University of New Hampshire reportedly has a checklist of all the species in its insect collection. This might not be completely comprehensive, but could be a good starting point.
Thank you for the help. I'm learning much from this thread. I'm going to try to attach a picture of a bee (at least I think it's a bee) to this message in hopes that you might recognize the type. I took this picture last summer in my yard. I haven't attached a picture before, so wish me luck. Also, I don't know if the sizing is correct.
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Orchard Mason Bee, osmia lignaria-p1020498.jpg  
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bee, bee block, lignaria, mason, mason bees, native bees, native plants, nest block, orchard, osmia, osmia lignaria, pollen, pollination

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