As One Ends, Others Start

I’ve been raising mason (orchard) bees for four springs¬†now and they have been really beneficial in pollinating my fruit trees and making the fruit taste better. I had harvested over 700 cocoons in March and by this time, only a few of the hatched bees are left…the others have filled nesting tubes with eggs (they die after they lay all their eggs).

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This year, an apartment-dwelling neighbor has set up a small honeybee hive on top of our garage roof and filled it with 10,000 honeybees. There are so many, I can look out my office window and see them collecting pollen from the blooms on my maple tree.

Earlier this morning, I went outside and got closer to the hive to see observe her bees. They were actively flying in and out of the hive. Some were even getting a drink from the water pan.

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My mason bees are almost done laying eggs and will die soon, so my work is done until the end of winter. The honeybees are just starting their work. I can’t wait to taste some of the honey from my neighbor’s collection in the fall!

 

I just love that we’re both doing our part to help pollinate our little neighborhood.

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Female Bee

March is definitely like a lion!

It’s been such a cold, rainy March. Lots of fruit trees are in bloom, but the temperatures have been too chilly for my mason bees to emerge from their cocoons. I fear that they will run out of energy from the food they ate before making cocoons and will be too weak to emerge and find food.

Today, I did see a single, lonely male hanging out at the opening of the cocoon box. That’s a bit promising. Hopefully, he’ll be joined by others very soon, awaiting the emergence of the females.

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Mom & Bees

I got my mom started on raising mason bees this year. I sent her a box a couple of months ago (eastern mason bees), but she didn’t think they were hatching and put in a new order last Monday. Since it’s towards the end of the season, Crown Bees sent her an extra 60 cocoons. When they arrived, some had already hatched. Mom was like a little kid full of glee when she called me! She was having a laugh about what the mail carrier thought when hearing their buzz (she said it sounded like somebody’s cell phone was on vibrate). I don’t think she’s getting much work done today…she’s having too much fun watching them hatch and mate!

 

Other Bees

6869219235_eebc69f87b_oNow that my mason bees have died (naturally) and the larva are developing in their cocoons, I’ve had a chance to observe other bees around my house. Usually, it’s bumblebees and yellow jackets. Both are beneficial pollinators, but I really dislike the yellow jackets. They can attack honey bees, plus I’m allergic to their sting. Yeah, I’m allergic to the honey bee sting, too, but there’s just something about yellow jackets that I hate, making me very prejudice against those menacing yellow & black nuisance.

I was walking from my car to the front steps and noticed quite a few honey bees on my lavender blooms. There were around a dozen bees, which is the most I’ve seen near my house.¬† I stood there, with my neighbor, watching them for several minutes. So, now I’m wondering, does somebody have a hive close by? I’m thrilled to see this many after years of seeing none!

Oops!

I thought my bees were done for the season, so I collected all the filled tubes from the houses and put them in a mesh bag. This is to prevent parasitic wasps and other pest from infiltrating the tubes.

I had no sooner sealed up the back when three of my gals came back to the bee house. They were confused since the unfilled tubes were not arranged the same way (since many filled tubes were missing, taking up less space) and buzzed around the openings, looking for their tube. I felt bad for them, but I’m confident they will figure it out or start a new tube.

I’d rather have a couple of confused bees than those nasty wasps in the tubes!