There is a very severe threat to our Mason Bee populations, Chalk Brood. According to the USDA Agricultural Research Service there is very little known about the actual fungus in the genus Ascosphaera that attacks the Blue Orchard Mason Bee, Osmia lignaria. What we do know is that it is highly contagious and deadly, it can wipe out your entire colony. Larva ingest a deadly spore and vector the disease to any bees that come in contact with the cadaver. These infected bees spread the fungus to your mason bees house, flowers and other nesting sites.
As many of you know our Mason Bee sales/fundraising program has been halted for the season due to this devastating disorder. After sampling tubes from our arboretum and tubes from several different mason bee donors we found that all of our populations had varying degrees of infestation. We have worked tirelessly to replace tubes that had already been sent out and have opted to stop selling cocoons for the year. Our donors have gone through a very tedious process of harvesting and sanitizing their remaining cocoons, in hopes that an uninfected generation will be born this year.
Please take this threat very seriously. This is just a great reminder of the importance of sanitation in your orchard practices. The only way to ensure that we are not spreading the disease is to harvest all of your mason bee cocoons. Clean and sanitize all of your nesting sites/homes on a yearly basis. Put out clean tubes every year, never reuse old tubes.
Harvesting cocoons takes a bit of time but, saving these bees is well worth our time and effort. Once the cocoons are harvested, by carefully slicing or cutting open, you must remove all the frass and pollen debris. 1.5 tsp of bleach to 1 cup of water is the recommended solution for sanitizing the cocoons and their homes. Your cocoons must be dried and placed in a refrigerator in a vented container. Temperature and humidity are important factors for their survival. 36-39 degrees and 60% or ^ humidity is ideal. A “bee emergence shelter” will need to be placed as close to their new nesting site as possible. They are available from different online sources or you can make your own. It needs to be a dark container with holes. At the arboretum we have used things like sour cream/yogurt containers and small waxed cardboard boxes.
Lots of information and control measure can be found online, please educate your selves on this disease and other problems that threaten our Mason Bee populations.
I wish you all the best of luck and remind you that we need to be good stewards to these wonderful little creatures that have served us so well over the years.
HOS Arboretum, Manager
Welcome to another winter season of mason bee supplies! Our sale/shipping season begins on December 7th 2015, and runs until our supplies run out! We have had high sales in previous years and run out of merchandise, so please consider ordering early in December or January to beat the rush.
Remember: We do not accept pre-orders, nor is there a waiting list before the start of the shipping season.
California residents MUST provide us with a copy of your mason bee permit BEFORE we can process your order. You must file form 66-026 with the California Department of Agriculture. Applications are available on-line at: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/permitsandregs.html
Send your permit to: Home Orchard Society PO Box 607 Oregon City, OR 97045
Or scan and email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Again this shipping season we will be limiting the number of tubes of bees for sale to any one customer to 25 tubes to ensure that the most people can get a population of bees going. If you are used to buying lots of bees to replace normal honeybee pollination on a commercial farm, PLEASE consider buying a larger number of empty tubes from us, and start building your own population rather than buying new bees each year.
We won’t be offering PVC houses for local sale again this year. Please check out the following forms for general mason bee care and DIY instructions for how to build the PVC houses yourself!
PLEASE NOTE: All shipping will be USPS priority mail unless otherwise arranged via email prior to your order.
Canadian orders and orders over $100 MUST email ahead for a custom shipping price: email@example.com
As the demand for mason bees rises, we are always looking for new bee suppliers in the Portland, OR metro area. Are you a mason bee enthusiast with bee houses that are overflowing with bees? Please contact us!
Have a great holiday season and happy pruning!
HOS Mason Bee Sales
The following is an excerpt from the August 2015 Bee Mail put out by our friends at Crown Bee:
Right now mason bees are in a critical development phase.
In a normal summer:
Spring mason bees should be beginning a final development from larva to adult bee. If you were to open a few cocoons right now, you’d normally find legs just forming and the bees would be all white. (The photo is about right for a “late-August” phase.) Bees need summer warmth to develop correctly. If it were too cold, your spring bees wouldn’t develop into adult bees in time for winter hibernation.
ALERT- What happens with a warmer-than-normal summer:
With too much heat, development speeds up. Your mason bees become “complete” adults too soon and begin to consume their internal stored fats much sooner. As it is very warm, their metabolism is high and their consumption of stored fats is accelerated. Very likely these bees may run out of this life-preserving “fuel” mid-winter and die.
In the Pacific Northwest where Crown Bees is headquartered, we have enjoyed a wonderfully warm summer and as a result, I’m very concerned about our mason bees. You should be as well.
What to do:
If in the Northwest, place all of your developing mason bees someplace cooler, like the north side of your house, in a cool garage, or similar. Don’t place the bees into a refrigerator yet, but do have them in a cooler environment between 60-70°F. Do not ignore me on this. Northwest temperatures have been 10-15°F (5-9° C) higher than normal and I believe next year’s bees are in jeopardy today. If your summer temperatures haven’t been that much above normal, than you can ignore my cautionary words. If you share my concern after reading this, open up one of your nesting holes (tubes/reeds/trays) and carefully cut open one of the cocoons located towards the front mudded end. This cocoon should hold a male that has lesser value than females. If the bee is white, most of your bees are likely on par in terms of development and should be fine. If the opened cocoon contains a black or brown bee then find a cool place for all your bees to rest until harvest.
Saturday, August 1st 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Home Orchard Society Arboretum
From 9:00 am until 11:00, join HOS members for a free bud grafting class that will teach you the basics of summer fruit tree grafting. Bring your hand pruners and a sharp knife if you have one.
At 11:00 am HOS members will demonstrate summer pruning techniques using various trees and espaliers in the Arboretum collection as your tree supply.
We’ll taste summer fruits gathered from around the Willamette Valley from noon until 1:00 pm. Bring your berries, early apples, plums and figs!
At 1:00 pm we will sit down together for a great potluck meal. Bring a dish to share and you own plates and utensils, and a picnic blanket or your favorite folding chair.
Join us for an evening in the orchard, Saturday June 27th from 4 till 7pm.
The Home Orchard Society has been sharing scions, stories, and a passion for fruit with Portland area residents (and beyond) since 1975. Join us for an evening in our beloved demonstration orchard to celebrate our founders, members, volunteers, and mission of “promoting the science, culture, and pleasure of growing fruit at home”. Bring a light snack to share, picnic plates/utensils/cups, and a folding chair or blanket. Beverages will be provided. We always look forward to meeting new friends and catching up with old ones. See you in the orchard!
Contact Tonia Lordy for information: 503-338-8479 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you had your fill of cider yet?
Saturday November 8th will be our last pressing event for the year(10am-3pm). Spend an afternoon at the arboretum pressing our beautiful cider worthy apples. Bring bottles, jugs, or jars so you can take some home to share with your friends and family. This is a super fun time for the whole family…oh and it’s suppose to be sunny and mild!!!
Looking forward to seeing you at the orchard!
Hey, did you know that our volunteers receive free admission to the show?!?
This year’s All About Fruit Show will take place on Saturday and Sunday, October 18th and 19th in the Main Pavilion of the Clackamas County Fairgrounds in Canby, 10am – 4pm. We always need help during the show and also during set-up on Friday the 17th. You can volunteer for one shift or for the entire day. It is a great way to meet other HOS members, get reacquainted with familiar faces and help ensure the smooth running of our show.
If you can help, please contact the Volunteer Coordinator: Jacqueline Freeman, at email@example.com
Hello my name is Jacqueline and I’m the Home Orchard Society volunteer coordinator! If you think HOS sounds like fun, you are totally right! This is a friendly, helpful group, fascinating knowledge. Might I invite you to be one of our volunteers? Right now I am looking for helpers for the All About Fruit show on Sat & Sun Oct 18-19. If you’d like to help for a morning or afternoon shift either day, you get free admission and a big smiley hug from me. Message me with your phone and email and we’ll get that setup. Thanks!