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Author Topic: Any mason beekeepers here?  (Read 5165 times)
BjornBee
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« on: December 11, 2008, 08:54:57 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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Irwin
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« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2008, 09:38:15 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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kathyp
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« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2008, 10:04:47 AM »

my  husband has some, but he never cuts them open.  they are to expensive to kill  evil
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Irwin
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« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2008, 10:25:56 AM »

Up at the ranch they fill every hole they can. Maybe I should think about selling some next year.
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« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2008, 04:18:43 PM »

What are mason bees good for?
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reinbeau
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« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2008, 04:31:59 PM »

What are mason bees good for?

They're good for being bees!  Smiley  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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jimmy
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« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2008, 07:12:38 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.   grin
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« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2008, 07:27:01 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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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2008, 10:16:08 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.   grin
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bassman1977
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« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2008, 09:34:10 AM »

And here I thought they had something to do with Freemasons.   rolleyes
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BjornBee
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« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2008, 10:55:53 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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BjornBee
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« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2008, 10:58:25 PM »

Whatever bee they are, they would need to nest into a .375 dia. cardboard tube. Not carpenter bees.

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« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2008, 12:03:40 AM »

Quote
You do not kill the mason bees by doing this

cutting them out of the cocoon can't do them much good.
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« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2008, 12:11:48 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.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2008, 09:31:22 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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reinbeau
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« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2008, 11:23:14 AM »

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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BjornBee
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« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2008, 04:32:11 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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« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2008, 07:46:19 PM »

Must be mason bees that plug up the water holes in my boat motor!

your friend,
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« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2008, 07:57:10 PM »

Bjorn, I don't fully understand the need for disinfecting the cocoons.  Is this solely for preparation for sale or transfer?

Thanks.
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rdy-b
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« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2008, 08:31:53 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 cheesy-RDY-B
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