Mason Bee Crisis!!!

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by Fonzie, Apr 4, 2005.

  1. Fonzie

    Fonzie Well-Known Member

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    YIKES, I have a bit of a crisis on my hands! My Mason bees have emerged and are happily flying around and making bee love. Unfortunately my fruit trees are not blooming {Chicago Burbs}. I guess this can happen to a novice such as myself. I was wondering if there is a type of cut flower I could buy to place out by my bee "houses" to give them something to feed upon, or do cut flowers only provide pollen and not nectar?

    Shoot I'll try anything but if my situation is hopeless so be it.



    Thanks In Advance

    Da Fonz
     
  2. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You might want to feed sugar syrup, you mix it 5# of sugar to 1 gallon hot water and let it cool then use a bee feeder, or try a chick water with marbles in it to keep the bees from drowning.
     

  3. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    There is pollen right now in NY, but I don't know what your weather is like in illinois, so I would only really worry about sugar syrup if you don't notice any blooms. Some trees such as maple might be blooming and producing pollen and nectar, but you have to look to see the blooms

    justgojumpit
     
  4. Fonzie

    Fonzie Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the advice J.D. I will try it as a stop gap measure until my fruit trees bloom. {hopefully within a few more days}.

    Justjumptoit: Do you know if Mason type bees will feed on Maple tree blooms when their preferred bloom source {fruit trees} are absent ?


    Thanks

    Da Fonz
     
  5. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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  6. Fonzie

    Fonzie Well-Known Member

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    Thanks JGJTI, now I've got the site bookmarked. It has good links too.
     
  7. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    yes, I liked that site. I've been looking into getting some mason bees myself. How do you like them compared to honey bees?

    justgojumpit
     
  8. Fonzie

    Fonzie Well-Known Member

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    I wish I could tell you how Mason bees compare to Honey bees but I can't. This is my first year with any type of bees so I am very new to this whole "bee" thing. My research into solitary bees indicate to me that they are the pollinators you want if you have fruit trees. I could state the reasons why solitary bees can out perform honey bees in backyard orchards but you probably already know the reasons yourself.


    Da Fonz
     
  9. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    Actually, i would be very interested in that information. I have two colonies of honeybees that survived the winter, with four nucs to pick up in early may, but I am also interested in mason bees.

    justgojumpit
     
  10. Fonzie

    Fonzie Well-Known Member

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    Ok here are some of the reasons Mason {solitary} bees might be a good choice for pollinating fruit trees.

    1: The Mason bees prefer fruit trees to all other sources of pollen and nectar. i.e. Honey bees can wander off from fruit trees and start pollinating other plants such as clover etc. etc.

    2: Mason bees are more efficient pollinators of fruit trees than Honey bees are. For example on a daily basis Mason bees will visit many more flower blooms per bee and will be much more efficient in getting the flower pollinated. It has to do with the shape of the Mason bee's body and how the bee "works" all over the flower.

    3: Mason bees work at lower temperatures than Honey bees. Therefore there is a better chance that your blooms can be pollinated while they are open.

    4: Mason bees are not plagued by the parasites that affect Honey bees. After the Mason bees fill their nesting holes with their eggs and plug the hole with mud, you can just gently remove the nest boxes and store them in a safe place. That way the developing brood can't be attacked by the occasional predatory wasp.

    5: Mason bees are practically maintainence free and they are much less apt to sting you because they are not aggresive. If the do sting you, it does not hurt. Mason bees are not aggresive because they have no queen to defend.

    6: Mason bees can be prolific breeders if you have good conditions.


    I am sure there are more reasons to like Mason bees but these are the ones that popped into my head right now.


    Da Fonz
     
  11. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    Thank you Fonzie, that was informative. I am still undecided, as I can make a profit with honeybees, but I don't see how I could even make mason bees pay for themselves without renting them out for pollination.

    justgojumpit

     
  12. Fonzie

    Fonzie Well-Known Member

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    I didn't know that you were making money with your bees. Heck by renting them out and also selling their honey maybe a person could make a few bucks.
    I'm just a back yard orchardist interested in getting efficient and complete pollination of my fruit trees.

    I did read somewhere on the net where people do put out their solitary bees in commercial orchards and then the bees go to work and do their pollination.Then the bees nest in previously placed tubes and the owners just take the now filled tubes home with them for next year.
    I really don't know much about it though.

    Good luck with your bees
    Da Fonz
     
  13. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    Fonzie, I find myself breaking even at the end of a year, then expanding and hopefully breaking even again or better. I'll take expansion as my profit for this year, and then I'll start selling splits I don't need and getting hives geared for high honey production rather than splitting them too heavily. Pollen and propolis sales for this year will bolster my bees' income a good bit.

    Although I am the moderator of a small, developing beekeeping forum on a homesteading site, I am just 18, trying to make it through college (animal science major at cornell university) and trying to save up a few bucks to get myself on my feet in two years from now.

    justgojumpit
     
  14. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Can you tell me how you gather and sell propolis?

    Also, what is it for? I know that health food people eat pollen; do they eat propolis also?
     
  15. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    Terri, propolis is gathered by the use of a plastic screen, much like a queen excluder, but with slightly smaller holes. This propolis screen replaces the inner cover of the hive, and the bees, naturally disliking a drafty hive, seal the holes in the screen with propolis. One full, the screen is placed in a garbage bag, inside the freezer. When cold and brittle, the plastic screen is flexed, and perfect little capsules of propolis pop off into the bag. These are then packed in a honey jar and sold at health food stores and the like for their antimicrobial properties. I'm not sure if I buy into the whole thing, but as long as there's a demand, it doesn't really matter what I think about the propolis!

    justgojumpit
     
  16. Lisa A

    Lisa A Well-Known Member

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    I did read (probably on a honeybee forum) that the mason bees were not as
    good as pollinators as honeybees since they only pollinate for a short time in
    early spring; they come out, breed and do their mudwork, then disappear;
    while honeybees are out all season, so if you have different fruit trees that
    bloom over a long time period you need to keep the mason bees in the fridge
    until the right time. Maybe the solution to honeybees liking clover and
    dandelions more than apples is making sure you have lots of bees on the job
    (like intensive rotational grazing)

    But honeybees sure are more work (our first honeybees don't come til the end
    of the month, it's already been a lot more work than the box of mason bees...)