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Old 11-27-2011, 12:06 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Dave Hunter View Post
Drilling holes in stumps and wood is actually not a good thing to do. While it's natural and is a great home for mason bees, it actually invites pest build up as well. Drilled holes work well for about 1-2 years. After that, the pest build up winds up shutting down more holes with the owner unaware of damage occurring.

Better is to have a means of harvesting cocoons in the fall. A variety of nesting material is available from paper tubes and reeds to pull-apart wood trays.
This depends on the goal. If the goal is to restore some balance similar to what the bees experience in a natural ecosystem then drilling some holes in dead trees, etc., each year (or providing some new holes each year with drilled blocks) is a good idea. It's similar to creating brush piles for native fauna. This is simply recreating the resources that would have been in a habitat if we humans hadn't removed them (that crazy tidiness disease ).

If you are raising the mason bee population to abnormally high levels for the purpose of using the mason bees as the primary pollinator of an agricultural crop, then yes drilled wood holes are not the best way to go about it. These kinds of high populations have to be managed properly. Bee cocoons have to be removed from their nest holes each fall, cleaned of mites and parasites, and inspected for any disease. Once cleaned they need to be properly stored over the winter. For this kind of system I would recommend the trays or phragmites stems. Paper straws are often difficult to remove from nests without damaging them, and unraveling them to remove the cocoons is a tedious process.
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Old 11-27-2011, 12:27 AM   #12
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My "wood blocks" would be made from chunks of tree deadfall from the forest I live in.

One of the members on our forum has a unique way of moving bees to new bee blocks. The blocks were placed on a level outdoor surface while the bees were still dormant. Cardboard boxes with tiny punched holes were placed over the bee blocks. The bees emerged from the bee blocks and flew through the holes in the cardboard box off into the wild blue yonder to their new bee blocks. I thought it was pretty clever.

I'd post a link to the thread here, but I can't seem to find it. It had nice photos too.

Anyway I'm not trying to become a beekeeper, just trying to make sure my bees have a nice place to call home.
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Old 11-27-2011, 11:39 AM   #13
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Thanks for all the info NEWisc and 'Lib. I have many snags at various stages of decay, and know I am lucky to have the kind of property that I can safely leave these up. I have tons of leaf cutter bees, judging by the large circular holes in my buttonbush and spicebush (interestingly, they seem to favor these two, although I find their holes in other things as well). I have been creating brush piles for the past couple of years, and am contemplating making a sandy area for those that hate my clay (although my husband observes it will likely end up a cat box, which is likely true).

I am not trying to develop an abnormally high population of any one species, but to create an ecosystem favorable to all, so I'll continue with my "if I build it, they will come" approach and have a great excuse for having an untidy yard.
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Old 11-27-2011, 11:44 AM   #14
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4B and turttle> Drill baby drill!!! Whether you 2 realize it or not.... you're BOTH beekeepers. You've given your bees a REALLY nice "managed" place to call home.... you're both organic gardeners.... you're both removing exotics and planting back no-fuss natives so..... if I was a bee... I'd beeline it to your places!!! I'd "hang" by either of you in a heartbeat and I'd move into any holes you 2 drilled in deadfall for me!!!
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Old 12-01-2011, 01:39 PM   #15
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bumblebee Alternative Pollinators: Native Bees

Alternative Pollinators: Native Bees
ATTRA Native Bees

https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/sum...ary.php?pub=75
Digital Price:
$4.95
Print Price
$7.95

By Eric Mader, Mace Vaughan, Matthew Shepherd, Scott Hoffman Black
Published 2010
Updated 2010
© NCAT
IP126
28 pages


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Introduction
This publication provides information and resources on how to plan for, protect and create habitat for native bees in agricultural settings. Creating and preserving native bee habitat is a good risk management strategy for farmers of specialty crops such as almonds, apples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, pears, plums, squash, tomatoes and watermelons. Oil and biofuel crops requiring bee pollination include canola and sunflower. Even meat and dairy industries are dependent on bee pollination for the production of forage seed such as alfalfa and clover. In many cases, these native pollinators are, on a bee-for-bee basis, more efficient than honey bees.
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Old 12-01-2011, 01:40 PM   #16
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Default Wild Bees as Alternative Pollinators

Wild Bees as Alternative Pollinators
Posted: September 27, 2011
Penn State Extension

Wild Bees as Alternative Pollinators — Fruit Times — Penn State Extension
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Promoting alternative pollinators may be seen as a threat to the honey bee industry, but lower numbers of mason bees can be used to supplement honey bee pollination under adverse weather conditions. A number of beekeepers in the western U.S. now offer the services of both honey and orchard mason bees for almond and fruit pollination.

Wild and managed species of pollen bees can, and unknowingly have, supplemented honey bees for pollination in specialty crops. Under very specific situations, which we are still researching, pollen bees could possibly replace them. Indeed, of a survey of 100 fruit growers at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention meeting early this year, over half indicated that they were no longer renting honey bees, but relying on wild bees for their pollination needs, including some growers with over 100 acres. A similar situation was seen in a larger survey of New York apple growers (http://www.danforthlab.entomology.cornell.edu/pollination-biology.html). Since most pollen bees appear to be flying in from…
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Old 12-05-2011, 08:19 PM   #17
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Some interesting info on sources of pollen for the eastern mason bee (Osmia lignaria lignaria):

Environmental Entomology 34(6):1593-1605. 2005
Flower Phenology and Pollen Choice of Osmia lignaria (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) in Central Virginia
Mark E. Kraemer and Françoise D. Favi
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Our objective was to determine pollen choice of a wild population of O. lignaria lignaria Say throughout the period of nest construction and relate this to the phenology of local floral resources.

Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis L.) pollen was the most abundant (28%) in nest provisions, and bloom was coincident with initial spring nest construction. Nest provisions had 11% oak (Quercus sp.), 10% boxelder (Acer negundo L.), 10% mustard (Brassicaceae), 8% willow (Salix sp.), 7% ash (Fraxinus sp.), 6% blackberry (Rubus sp.), 4% black gum (Nyssa sylvatica Marsh), and 4% poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans L. Kuntze) pollen.
BioOne Online Journals - Flower Phenology and Pollen Choice of Osmia lignaria (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) in Central Virginia
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Old 12-05-2011, 08:32 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by NEWisc View Post
This depends on the goal. If the goal is to restore some balance similar to what the bees experience in a natural ecosystem then drilling some holes in dead trees, etc., each year (or providing some new holes each year with drilled blocks) is a good idea. It's similar to creating brush piles for native fauna. This is simply recreating the resources that would have been in a habitat if we humans hadn't removed them (that crazy tidiness disease ).

If you are raising the mason bee population to abnormally high levels for the purpose of using the mason bees as the primary pollinator of an agricultural crop, then yes drilled wood holes are not the best way to go about it. These kinds of high populations have to be managed properly. Bee cocoons have to be removed from their nest holes each fall, cleaned of mites and parasites, and inspected for any disease. Once cleaned they need to be properly stored over the winter. For this kind of system I would recommend the trays or phragmites stems. Paper straws are often difficult to remove from nests without damaging them, and unraveling them to remove the cocoons is a tedious process.
.
A few years ago I cut down my quite large Japanese Maple, leaving the central trunk as a snag. I then drilled holes of various diameters to attract the mason bees. I never did get any that I know of, but this fall I have a woodpecker who visits the trunk daily and has mangled the entrances to the holes. Whatever took up residence in those holes is supplying quite a bit of nutrition to this bird/birds.

So, the experiment failed in one respect but succeeded in another, especially as it is a hairy woodpecker that is the visitor, and all I usually get is the downy.

In all respects it is a vast improvement over when the tree was alive. One more alien down memory lane...
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Old 12-05-2011, 08:52 PM   #19
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A few years ago I cut down my quite large Japanese Maple, leaving the central trunk as a snag. I then drilled holes of various diameters to attract the mason bees. I never did get any that I know of, but this fall I have a woodpecker who visits the trunk daily and has mangled the entrances to the holes. Whatever took up residence in those holes is supplying quite a bit of nutrition to this bird/birds.

So, the experiment failed in one respect but succeeded in another, especially as it is a hairy woodpecker that is the visitor, and all I usually get is the downy.

In all respects it is a vast improvement over when the tree was alive. One more alien down memory lane...
Always interesting to see what nature does with our plans ...

Your plan may actually be working better than it appears. Native bees have adapted to predation by woodpeckers, etc., by laying the female eggs deepest within the hole. Then they fill the rest of the hole with male eggs. Unless the woodpecker is really thorough they will usually wind up leaving a male or two and the females that are deep into the hole.

So you likely have benefited both the bees and the woodpeckers.
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Old 12-06-2011, 10:18 AM   #20
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Interesting the pollen sources are mostly trees and shrubs or vines. Which is why they are good orchard pollinators I guess. They are such early spring pollinators.
We have redbud all around in this neighborhood as well as our garden, we also have blackberries. Box elder was quite common until the city took down many of the old trees. It would be interesting to see what the pollen mix is for local bees. I wonder if the university of Il. has done anything similar.
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