March 24, 2017

DIY Mason Bee House Kit

The one thing I like about social media is the giveaways. I don't like the "loop giveaways" where you have to like and follow every sponsor, but sometimes companies will run a contest where all you have to do is leave a comment. The ones where you have to tag a friend are tough for me to like, feeling the practice is one step away from chain letters, but I understand the value of lead generation. For the chance to win the right thing, I'll give up a friend's name. And that is how I came to own a DIY Mason Bee House Kit from Mason Bees For Sale.
The kit includes everything except glue. I ordered reeds because I didn't realize the kit includes nesting tubes.

Putting glue in the precision cut grooves.

Attaching the sides.

Attaching the floor. The back is the only part that you have to figure out the positioning for (no grooves for it) but it goes on last and placement is fairly intuitive. It sits inside the walls, making the whole construction sturdy.

The kit even includes rubber bands to secure the house while the glue sets.
Also included in the kit is a coupon code for 10% off bees. Don't tell them I told you it's MASONBHK17.

Getting Bees For Your Mason Bee House

Suppliers are beginning their clearance sales like this one.
Expires on Mar 31, 2017
They know that the bees are ready to emerge. Order TODAY… and be prepared to open your mail with bees crawling around inside the box. A list of my favorite vendors is at the end of this post.
Osmia Californica (left) and Osmia Lignaria (right). Hard to tell with the O. californica but the O. lignaria male to female ratio looks appropriate, i.e.: 6:4.
If you don't want to buy, you can trap nest instead. Just set out your house and wait for native bees find it. But bees like to use material that smells like bees before them ok'd the house, so a brand new house can be iffy. Greater success can be had if you stock it with cocoons or better yet filled reeds; they have the smell of approval.

My first year I bought 20 cocoons and harvested 55 at the end of the season. Last year I purchased reeds full of orchard bees from and after they emerged, leaf cutter bees moved in. The Osmia unfortunately dispersed. More on that in my next post.

This year I tried a new vendor, Mountain West, whose cocoons are well under a dollar a piece. The cocoons have been out for over a week and not one bee has emerged despite our 20° above normal temperatures. Looking at my records, March 28 is when I've noted meconium in years past so I'm not worried yet. All the pear trees in the neighborhood are in full bloom with cherries and peaches already starting, so they're missing out on some amazing forage. Hopefully the bees will come out in time for the Crab Apples. With the crazy mild winter we had and the upcoming days of on-and-off moisture, the bloom is going to be EPIC.

How's the bloom looking in your neck of the woods? See if these businesses can get cocoons to you in time.

Bee Thinking:
Brushy Mountain Bee Farm:
Crown Bees:
Mason Bees For Sale:
Mountain West:

March 20, 2017

Beekeeping Students: If you see front door activity, there should be pollen involved in some of them. If not…

The following was posted by Don Studinski, author of Beekeeping Mentor In A Book, in his Yahoo! Group, Beekeeping Students.
I'm seeing white Pear trees bloom all over Fort Collins. I've been seeing forsythias for a few days now. Of course, the elm and maple are almost done now.
Your bees are bringing in pollen and nectar already. They are raising brood! If you see front door activity, there should be pollen involved in some of them. If not, it may be robbers that do not live there. Check your bees. 
I'm out checking today for drone brood in anticipation of swarm prevention.
I heard there were 4 swarms in Denver yesterday!