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 Time to stir up some discussion- mason bees 
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
Posts: 220
Location: Rochester, WA
Post Time to stir up some discussion- mason bees
I have a peach tree and a few plums just starting to blossom. I have about 10 tubes of mason bees. I have decided to put out a tube or 2 to pollinate the peaches and early plums. I am not sure I have enough blossoms to keep the bees 'home'. Do people plant flowers to add to their blossoms so the bees will stick around? If so what flowers? I know when the apples blossom this won't be a problem. What clever ideas have you come up with to keep the mason bees from desserting the orchard and heading to the neighbors blossoms? And I don't think little leashes are legal. Thanks for any tips or ideas.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Mon Mar 27, 2006 1:21 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
Posts: 220
Location: Rochester, WA
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How long does it take the mason bees to emerge? It has been almost 2 weeks and temps have been mostly mild. Today was gorgeous. Things are starting to grow.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Tue Apr 04, 2006 8:07 pm
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Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 9:12 am
Posts: 21
Location: Western Washington
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We put out tubes mid-March- the bees all emerged in the last week as the weather warmed. Question is, will they be content to build a colony in the tube house we put up. We have tried in the past to establish a bee colony, but were only marginally successful with the drilled wood blocks. Thought we'd try the straws/tube housing method to see if that works better. We certainly have plenty of fruit trees and other flowering plants to keep them fed.

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Terry M.
Sunset Zone 4, USDA Zone Zone 8a


Thu Apr 06, 2006 7:08 am
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
Posts: 220
Location: Rochester, WA
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Thanks for the response Terry. Mine still haven't come out but maybe any day now. I have my wooden block and a tube or cardboard tubes all facing southeast. They get morning sun and are protected from the rain. I still do not have enough blooms I don't think to keep them 'home'. I will take some pics and post an update when I see more activity. Thanks again.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Thu Apr 06, 2006 1:33 pm
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Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 9:12 am
Posts: 21
Location: Western Washington
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We are beginning to believe we have too much in bloom- the darned bees are not on the orchard trees, but flitting around the ornamentals! Our huge flowering cherry buzzes with the wild honey bees while our Prune plums are in full bloom with not a bee in sight. My husband took this photo yesterday- http://groups.msn.com/SilverCreekGarden/gardenphotos.msnw?action=ShowPhoto&PhotoID=47

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Terry M.
Sunset Zone 4, USDA Zone Zone 8a


Fri Apr 07, 2006 7:36 am
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
Posts: 220
Location: Rochester, WA
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Ok my bees are starting to come out. I hope to catch them out to get some pics soon. I did see 4 go into my new tubes the first day. I hope they stick around.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:48 pm
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Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2004 10:23 pm
Posts: 95
Post 
Mason Bees -
I keep a few tubes of masons in the refrig. untill most of the mid-season blooming fruit trees are near full bloom then set tehn in the trees. Usually the mason bees are out so early that the later blooming trees may get missed. For early trees bring a few tubes indoors in staples paper sacks to encourage early emegence. Try anything to regualte temperatures that will regulate the time of there emerging from the tubes.

Ted


Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:09 pm
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Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2004 9:09 am
Posts: 138
Location: Canby, OR Z8
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I don't see any point to trying to "keep them home". Mason bees seem quite able to deal with the small quanties of blooms as well as the large ones. They spread it out quite reasonably, although of course there will be more bees in the neighbor's 80-foot charry tree than in your 4-foot plum, or whatever. But the small trees do get pollinated, it just doesn't take long so it's very easy to miss. And if it takes the neighbor's trees to fuel your Mason bees's needs for pollen and nectar... well then... "thanks neighbor!"
There are massive blooming trees surrounding my property and my bees spend most of their time there, but make no mistake, they cover my small fruit trees as well. I'm grateful that they have a blossom supply when there's slim pickens in my orchard. Otherwise, they might leave the neighborhood althogether. :(


Fri Apr 21, 2006 2:29 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
Posts: 220
Location: Rochester, WA
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I agree, but I would like to build up a supply of the bees. I tried for 5 years without getting a single hole filled by relying on 'wild' bees. I am hoping to keep the bees I bought to start a supply. I guess I could buy a supply every year but thats not as fun.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Fri Apr 21, 2006 2:51 pm
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Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2004 9:09 am
Posts: 138
Location: Canby, OR Z8
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The bees should nest in your yard even if there are no blooms there, provided that there are blooms nearby, like next-door in any direction. Adequate nesting sites are a limited resource, moreso than blossoming trees and shrubs. Your bees *should* be happy to nest in the tubes you provide for them.
In my yard the bees continue their busy nesting long after the last apple blossom has faded. Sometimes I'm not sure where they're finding blooms but I see them return to "home base" time after time loaded with pollen.
The male bees emerge a week or two or three before the females. So if you see the first-emergers crawling into the tubes you provided, it's probably just males and not nesting females. Although it is a good sign that the females will find them too. If you see them goiing in and out regularly, it's almost certainly the females, which are identifiable by being larger and no white, fuzzy markings on their faces.


Sat Apr 22, 2006 8:09 pm
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Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2004 9:09 am
Posts: 138
Location: Canby, OR Z8
Post picture
Here's a picture of my mason bee farm:

http://www.canby.com/tcstoehr/bees/DSCN0804.JPG


Sun Apr 23, 2006 9:25 am
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Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 4:12 am
Posts: 24
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Actual wild honey-bees, seem unlikely. Here, in the Irvington neighborhood of Portland, I haven't seen a real honeybee in many years. They seem to be extinct.

I did see a few, in North Portland, a while back. I was thrilled. Local folks tell me, there is a beekeeper nearby. Without human assistance, honey bees generally cannot survive nowadays.

My trees produce big crops of apples, so something pollinates them. Not honey bees though. I miss them.


Fri Nov 10, 2006 5:20 am
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1154
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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I kept honey bees about 20 years ago here in the woods. Considering them more work and danger than they were worth, I moved them away from the orchard and into the woods (a nice high & dry spot above a large pond). With two solid hive bodies and two full supers, I left them alone. Sure enough, with tracheal mites and whatever else - they were domed...

But just this year, for the first time in that long - I've seen 3 of the largest honey bee swarms ever. I video taped one, my kids had never seen such a sight in their lives! I also advised a coworker what to 'do' with a massive swarm in her front yard; and was amazed while sitting at an intersection in Hillsboro when another swarm moved through the cars (that's a total of 5 swarms). I haven't done any research on them lately, but they seem to be back!

Fat and lazy, they never did much for my fruit trees / vines in comparison to the native bees, including masons, but they're welcome all the same.

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Fri Nov 10, 2006 9:26 am
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