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Offline BjornBee

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Any mason beekeepers here?
« on: December 11, 2008, 09:54:57 AM »
This morning, I was playing around with cutting open some tubes from some of my mason bee colonies. I came across two things that I have questions about. Hopefully someone can chime in.

The first is a tube that was filled with 5 harden type cocoons, which are not at all like anything I have seen before. They were separate chambers with mud plugs. but they have a somewhat hardened casing to the cocoon. They are "flared" at one end as the picture shows. More of a kind of "capsule" than a spun cocoon. Anyone have a clue as to the type of bee this be from?  Thank you



The second picture is from cocoon type that would be far less than what the average mason bee cocoon would be. It was shallow in it's construction and the larvae simply fell out of the cocoon as I opened it. For the 11th of December, I would of thought the mason bee would of been fully developed at this time. But I have never opened mason bees at this time before, so I am not sure. Anyone have a clue if this COULD be a mason bee, or just simply another later developing bee?  Thank you.



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Offline Irwin

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2008, 10:38:15 AM »
I take block's of wood drill a bunch of holes take them up to the ranch and the mason bees just fill the holes up then I bring them home and let them do there thing. That's all I know never looked in side. I need to go get them when I do I will take a look in one of them and let you know what I see.
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Online kathyp

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2008, 11:04:47 AM »
my  husband has some, but he never cuts them open.  they are to expensive to kill  :evil:
.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

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Offline Irwin

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2008, 11:25:56 AM »
Up at the ranch they fill every hole they can. Maybe I should think about selling some next year.
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Offline Greg Peck

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2008, 05:18:43 PM »
What are mason bees good for?
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Offline reinbeau

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2008, 05:31:59 PM »
What are mason bees good for?

They're good for being bees!  :)  Seriously, they're good pollinators, just like our honeybees, there's just not as many of them in one area like a hive of honeybees.

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Offline jimmy

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2008, 08:12:38 PM »
We call those Carptner Bees. Saw some a few days ago on ebay. They drill holes anywhere they find wood . In the summer my old barn looks like a saw mill with all the sawdust.   :-D

Offline reinbeau

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2008, 08:27:01 PM »
No, Jimmy, Mason Bees are quite a bit different from Carpenter Bees.  The Carpenter Bees are much larger.  I've got one that raises a family in my porch every year, I never have more than two out there, for whatever reason, I don't kill them.  One of these days I'm going to paint the porch ceiling and they'll move on to other unpainted wood.

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Offline jimmy

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2008, 11:16:08 PM »
My apoligies . I have never heard the term Mason bee, so I ass/u/me they were the same. Don't remember that one from, Bees for Dummies. Now I have to look.   :-D

Offline bassman1977

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2008, 10:34:10 AM »
And here I thought they had something to do with Freemasons.   :roll:
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Offline BjornBee

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2008, 11:55:53 PM »
my  husband has some, but he never cuts them open.  they are to expensive to kill  :evil:

There is a process of opening up the tunes, if you have removable paper or cardboard tubes, that allows you to clean the cocoons, and manipulate them into other tubes, etc.  I never do it myself, but the process is well known and harmless. You do not kill the mason bees by doing this.
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Offline BjornBee

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2008, 11:58:25 PM »
Whatever bee they are, they would need to nest into a .375 dia. cardboard tube. Not carpenter bees.

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Online kathyp

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2008, 01:03:40 AM »
Quote
You do not kill the mason bees by doing this

cutting them out of the cocoon can't do them much good.
.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

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Offline MrILoveTheAnts

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2008, 01:11:48 AM »
Carpenter bees make their own holes while Mason bees take advantage of preexisting holes. At this time of year I would expect them to be in the final instar of the larval stage or have had a cocoon for a few weeks. The early spring heat in March is the last thing they need to fully develop. There's about a 2 week period where they begin opening emerging and from there they're only around for 4 to 6 weeks of the year. However, there are a few species at work here such as Leaf Cutter bees and Mason Wasps which are more common over the summer. Keeping a few free nesting blocks around all year with varied sized holes can help attract different species.  

I know Leaf Cutter bees will use the leaves to cherry trees and sunflower pedals, but I don't know if they're very specific.

At any rate, Mason bees, and some mason wasp, are great pollinators. They only travel about half a mile from the tube they're working and aren't really picky about the flowers they visit, similar to bumblebees. The trouble is your resident Mason bees might not be active when your garden is blooming. And though they can get deeper in most flower they don't compare to the numbers a Honey Bee hive can offer. So they might do a better job with a few blooms on a tree, the over all result won't compare to Honey Bees unless you have a great deal of them around. I read once that 1 female mason bee can provide for 20 to 30 young. A number of these are males that die after mating with the females and there are parasitic mason wasps/bees that lay their eggs in place of host Mason bee.

As far as beekeeping goes though these are the easiest bees out there. They don't sting or rarely do anyhow, they're not aggressive. You just drill holes in dead wood (untreated preferably, and not all the way though the wood)  and they show up.

What size holes does everyone have the most success with? I know most mason bees are tiny but the imported Resin Bee is quite big, a bit smaller the Large Carpenter Bees it uses the old nests of.

Offline BjornBee

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2008, 10:31:22 AM »
Quote
You do not kill the mason bees by doing this

cutting them out of the cocoon can't do them much good.

kathy,

I think we started by talking about opening the tubes, and have quickly gone into cutting open the cocoons.

My last reply had to do with the very well documented, and proven method of opening up the tubes. This is done for a host of reasons to include disinfecting, repackaging so a number of healthy cocoons are in a starter kit, etc. Mason bees are fully developed after a certain period, and there is no harm by opening tubes, and leaving the cocoons intact.

Nobody is suggesting opening up the cocoons. You do not do this to mason bees. So I guess your commenting on something that others do not do anyways, making the comments and discussion off target.

I have never seen a mason bee book that did not cover or mention the cleaning of cocoons for reasons to include mites, which can be a problem, yet easily solved.

The pictures I first posted have the larvae out of the cocoons. They practically fell out when I opened the tubes. This is not normal for this timeframe, and thus the original questions.

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Offline reinbeau

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2008, 12:23:14 PM »
So Mike, once you've opened the tubes and taken the cocoon out, do you put the cocoon back into another one?

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Offline BjornBee

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2008, 05:32:11 PM »
So Mike, once you've opened the tubes and taken the cocoon out, do you put the cocoon back into another one?

Good question. Beyond reading about cleaning them, I'm not real experienced. I was hoping to put some in glass tubes so I could observe and learn more about them.

My own concerns would be about putting them in backwards, or messing up the location of the males being in front, with the females behind.

I know you can buy just the cocoons. I know there are procedures to clean and disinfect the cocoons. But not sure what you do with them afterwards. I'm thinking maybe you can just lay them out when the time is right and they can just open without being in tubes. But not really sure myself.

I've had masons for three years and built up a population to about 13 full cans each holding about 80 tubes. But I'm no expert. Right now, I have from what it seems, several types of bees.
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Offline johnnybigfish

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2008, 08:46:19 PM »
Must be mason bees that plug up the water holes in my boat motor!

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Offline 1of6

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2008, 08:57:10 PM »
Bjorn, I don't fully understand the need for disinfecting the cocoons.  Is this solely for preparation for sale or transfer?

Thanks.

Offline rdy-b

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2008, 09:31:53 PM »
Must be mason bees that plug up the water holes in my boat motor!

your friend,
john
could just be muddapers-(wasps) how big are the holes -I remember one time i could not get my weedeater to start -guy at the shop said muddabers pluged up the muffler :lol:-RDY-B

Offline BjornBee

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #20 on: December 13, 2008, 09:40:23 PM »
Bjorn, I don't fully understand the need for disinfecting the cocoons.  Is this solely for preparation for sale or transfer?

Thanks.

Mites (not v-mites) are a problem with masons. I think taking out the cocoons and cleaning/disinfecting them is a way to combat that. It also allows you to change out the paper inserts or the cardboard tubes, and ensure the next generation will be raised in new tubes.

You also get from my observations, many "false" tubes sealed with mud. I'm not sure if it's a built-in defense of the mason bees, where they plug all the tubes, so parasitic wasps will spend time and waste resources trying to open tubes with nothing inside. But I guess if your going to sell mason bees, you would want to make sure your selling a good tube with actual cocoons inside.

I'm not suggesting that you NEED to open mason bee tubes. I'm just mentoning this as something with a meaning, and is certainly a well stated procedure that is proven. Up till now, I have just let them multiply. But I want to ensure that I have the type bees I say I have, and want to further my limited expertise on the finer points of mason bees.
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Offline 1of6

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #21 on: December 13, 2008, 10:44:28 PM »
Bjorn, I don't fully understand the need for disinfecting the cocoons.  Is this solely for preparation for sale or transfer?

Thanks.

Mites (not v-mites) are a problem with masons. I think taking out the cocoons and cleaning/disinfecting them is a way to combat that. It also allows you to change out the paper inserts or the cardboard tubes, and ensure the next generation will be raised in new tubes.

Interesting stuff - I'm glad this thread caught my attention.  From what I just read it sounds like that's one of the major downsides of using the wooden blocks drilled with 5/16" holes - germs, debris, and parasites left behind from previous years...now I understand a little better.

From  http://www.farminfo.org/bees/mason-bees.htm :
 
"Bare wood holes are acceptable to mason bees, but over time the become fouled with debris and germs. If not cleaned, the hole loses its attractiveness as a subsequent nest cavity. Mason bees tend to "go away" from such nest blocks after the first year or two. Diseases and parasites may build up in unhygenic nest blocks. The best nest system for orchard bees is a smooth wood hole with a porous insert or liner (straw) which can be replaced each season."

"...they are subject to diseases, parasites, and predators. These include fungal diseases of the developing bees, various types of mites, which compete with the larval bees for food or parasitize them, and predatory insects or larger predatory animals like woodpeckers. The most serious of these problems are the diseases and parasites..."

Also:
http://www.redmason.net/

and

http://www.masonbeehomes.com/ - this site sells the 'bee boxes'.


Bjorn, do you make your own straws?

Offline johnnybigfish

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #22 on: December 13, 2008, 11:07:37 PM »
Actually, they arent mud dabbers....I think they plug the holes up with slices of leaves..Although, The mud dabbers clog up all kinds a things around my place!!!...mowers, tillers, other boat engines under the cowling....But the dabbers are good cuz they

 kill black widows!..I dont think they sting either..I even have some dabbers what are shiny blue/black! and some what are red!

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Offline BjornBee

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #23 on: December 14, 2008, 10:40:14 AM »
1of6,
No. I bought mine from Ace paper tube Co. They were about 7 cents each. However, that was the price for 5,000 tubes three years ago.

The tubes are so easy and allow easy expansion, that the blocks are quickly forgotten for the reasons you posted.

 
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Offline Cindi

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #24 on: December 16, 2008, 12:01:51 AM »
MILTA, off topic, but just thought I would mention this.  I read your stuff avidly, you seem to know an awful lot of the insect world, and I have briefly looked at your blogspot, I will read more when I have time, you and it is interesting.  Have a wonderful and awesome day, life, healthy good wishes for us all. Cindi
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Offline CapeCod

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #25 on: December 16, 2008, 07:38:36 PM »
Can someone post pictures of the 2 to compare?
Carpenter // Mason
« Last Edit: December 17, 2008, 06:12:54 AM by CapeCod »

Offline BjornBee

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #26 on: December 16, 2008, 08:42:59 PM »
Can someone post pictures of the 2 to compare?

Pictures of what?
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Offline Mason

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #27 on: October 24, 2009, 12:19:12 PM »
I was thinking that home made Mason Bee hives could make nice Christmas gifts.  Especially since I picked up a free drill press off of crags list and my name is "Mason".....get it.

I live in Georgia.  Do we have enough mason bees here to populate the hives?  What are some thing you could do to improve your chances of actually getting some bees to move in?  I see that some people bring their hives to remote locations to populate them but does anyone have any idea as to why these areas?

I have honey bees, carpenter bees,  dirt divers (mud daubers), yellow jackets, European hornets....would love to have some mason bees join the party.
Former beekeeper until March....maybe next year...RIP

Offline BjornBee

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #28 on: October 24, 2009, 12:36:27 PM »
Hello Mason,

What a great idea for Christmas gifts.

Mason bees require a food source (early fruit trees, etc), a suitable place to nest, and a chemical free environment. They are very sensitive to chemicals.

Mason bees can be finicky and if they are not happy with the location, they will leave the area. They will thrive in one area, and be void in another.

I would, just as it's good advice for honey bees, get a book on masons. There are some paperback books that can be bought for 10 dollars or less.

Masons pollinate for a given timeframe, about 6 weeks, then are inactive the rest of the summer. You must protect them from predatory wasps after they complete there cycle. I mention this, because they do take some special care if you are to see them thrive and multiply.

I have no idea if masons live in the south.

And if you do make the homes out of wood, invest in the thin paper tubes that can be changed out and clean ones replaced.

Good luck and I'm sure you will love the world of masons.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2009, 02:13:49 PM by BjornBee »
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Offline lakeman

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #29 on: October 24, 2009, 02:03:15 PM »
Can someone post pictures of the 2 to compare?
Carpenter // Mason

A carpenter bee looks like a bumble bee, I cannot tell the difference. I hate the carpenter bee, as I have an abundance of them, and they are drilling holes in everything made of wood. A couple of months ago, I went to dig a hole, stepped on my shovel forcing it into the ground, put force on it to dig a shovel full of dirt out, and the handle broke, the danged carpenter bees had bored into it, turned and drilled a hole for about 16 inches up the handle. G-R-r-r- I hate them. They bore holes into anything made of wood and not painted, leaving piles of saw dust and holes everywhere. [size=1024pt]G-[/size]G-R-R-r-r-r-r
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Offline Sparky

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #30 on: October 24, 2009, 09:02:18 PM »
If you look at the abdomen of a carpenter bee it will be smooth, black, shinny that gives the appearance of a hard shell. The bumble bee will have hairy abdomen. The Bumbles are cool. I too had a shovel that was sticking in the mulch pile for two days and went to use it and noticed something rough under my hand. It was a fricken hole that them buggers bored about 3/4" deep. I found when I was working beside my shed they were coming and going under the timber of the floor. The WD-40 knocks them dead in flight.

Offline lenape13

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #31 on: October 24, 2009, 10:39:54 PM »
Up at the ranch they fill every hole they can. Maybe I should think about selling some next year.

I'd be a potential customer.  Been trying to find them for a couple of years and the suppliers I find are always sold out.

Offline rdy-b

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #32 on: October 24, 2009, 11:04:54 PM »
Up at the ranch they fill every hole they can. Maybe I should think about selling some next year.

I'd be a potential customer.  Been trying to find them for a couple of years and the suppliers I find are always sold out.

well todays your lucky day  :lol: how many would you like  8-) 
http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=234988

Offline solitarybee

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Re: Any mason beekeepers here?
« Reply #33 on: December 20, 2009, 06:02:34 PM »
This morning, I was playing around with cutting open some tubes from some of my mason bee colonies. I came across two things that I have questions about. Hopefully someone can chime in.

The first is a tube that was filled with 5 harden type cocoons, which are not at all like anything I have seen before. They were separate chambers with mud plugs. but they have a somewhat hardened casing to the cocoon. They are "flared" at one end as the picture shows. More of a kind of "capsule" than a spun cocoon. Anyone have a clue as to the type of bee this be from?  Thank you

The second picture is from cocoon type that would be far less than what the average mason bee cocoon would be. It was shallow in it's construction and the larvae simply fell out of the cocoon as I opened it. For the 11th of December, I would of thought the mason bee would of been fully developed at this time. But I have never opened mason bees at this time before, so I am not sure. Anyone have a clue if this COULD be a mason bee, or just simply another later developing bee?  Thank you.



Hi there,

It's only my second post so I cant share images that I have... however the indications are that these were of solitary wasp species.  I had something similar this year 2009.  Both the capsule/cocoon (with a sort of flare), and a larvae that freely fell out of the cocoon when I opened it up.  The larvae appeared fairly lifeless, but I put in a flat bed scanner and forgot about it, only to find that it metamorphosed on the scanner 6 weeks after the emergence of my solitary bees.  I also saw the pre-cocoon development (as it was in a clear plastic tube) and rather than pollen stocked in the cell, there were c.12 anaesthetised small fruit tree type caterpillars.

Another thing I noticed on a bee block was several concave mud seals as opposed to the convex ones of the bee species I have... I think these are a sign of the wasps.  

Hope this is useful.