Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The leafcutter bee block is up...

I asked Dave of Dave's Bees to make me a special nesting block for leafcutter bees.
Leafcutter bees line and seal their egg chambers with circular pieces of green leaves that they chew off with their precise mandibles. This is different from the mason bees, who use mud to seal their egg cocoon chambers. Leafcutter bees supposedly like slightly smaller and shorter tubes (1/4" diameter x 4" length) than mason bees like (5/16" diam. x 6" length). They also do their nesting just a bit later in the Spring than the mason bees typically do, from what I have read. So Dave made me a really nice nesting block with the requested sized holes (lined with parchment so as to discourage mites and fungus by replacing the liner each year).
I put it up underneath my other two boxes. The new leafcutter bee box is at the bottom in the photo, on our back kitchen porch post. The morning sun shines right at the fronts of the nesting blocks, warming up the bees nicely on chilly mornings for a couple of hours. Again, I stapled on chicken wire to keep any hungry woodpeckers from getting the bees or cocoons. It will be very interesting to see who, if anyone, moves into the new bee block with the smaller holes. (Clicking the blog pictures will enlarge them)

Here just before sunset today I got a couple of shots of the Osmia taurus mason bee going in and out of one of the tubes. This little bee must be living around here and discovered the nice nesting tubes and moved in right alongside my blue orchard mason bees! They seem to be getting along just fine. It's nice to have two different species to watch. The first photo shows her flying in, the next photo is when she emerged from the tube to do another pollen run. It's very hard to photograph them, as they seldom seem to stay still for a second, unlike honeybees who often laze about photogenically. ;)

And here is my first video of my solitary bees using the nest boxes on my kitchen porch!:

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