Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mason Bee nesting boxes are up

Today Brian helped me get the two new nesting boxes up for our native pollinating bees- the blue orchard mason bees.

The upper box is a solid block of wood drilled with long tunnels, in which the mason bee female will lay her series of cocoon chambers in sequence, separating each cocoon with a little wall of mud ('bee masonry' if you will). All the tunnels are lined with parchment paper which will discourage the accumulation of mites, fungus and such. The paper liners get replaced every Spring.
The lower box contains two 'cans' which are filled with cardboard nesting tubes, each of which is also lined with parchment paper.
The boxes are facing SE to catch the morning sun, and I installed chicken wire guards to keep woodpeckers from trying to get to the bee larvae in the nesting tubes.

It's still too early to put out the actual mason bee cocoons I have hibernating in tubes in the refrigerator alongside the cucumbers and alfalfa sprouts in the vegetable drawer. Another big cold snap is in the forecast for next week, so I'll likely put the cocoons out right after that. I hope the boxes will also attract some of the mason bees I have seen foraging in my garden in past years. I know there are some nearby somewhere. Between watching for local native mason bees and getting new honeybees, it should be an interesting season!
In the photos, you can see a few purple crocus blooming on the lawn, but that's about the only thing blooming yet.

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