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Janice

Native bees quite at home in Botanic Garden

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I've got heaps of them on clay bank by the drive and also living in the knot holes in the pergola. I will phone DOC for a conservation grant.

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You should see them all on the Te Waihou walking track at Putaruru near @dansar . Holes in the track as homes. The constant walking traffic did not appear to bother them. No sign of any honey bees there on all the flowers either. The natives were working the manuka

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Do you folks in NZ have any thing similar to the BLUE ORCHARD MASON BEE - Osmia lignaria

We, here on the Central Coast of California, have and continue to discover some very interesting facts regarding these bees (I am relatively sure their influence and behavior is duplicated in NZ). I am currently testing a number of "combo" hives with local growers of fruit & nuts.

 

Before proceeding on, let me explain my status: I produce Warre Style hives (view site welcome : Rainemaker) and I added a feature to my hive that accommodates a MASON bee nest module in the roof of the hive (nest size approx. 400 tubes).

 

Here is what we know to date:

 

  • The mix of Honey Bees and Mason Bees dramatically increases necessary pollination for Almonds.
  • My Warre Hive on 2 foot stand, bring the Mason Bee Nest height at the right level for Almond Trees.
  • The internal temperature of my Warre hive matches the incubation temperature required for Mason bees to emerge.

 

My final test results and actual data will be available after this springs pollination period. I may be "jumping-the-gun" on this one, but I am confident. Confident enough to share the information.

 

PS - Mason bees is very similar to keeping silk worms and fairly simple.

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Trees to grow Almond nuts! Was that a trick question or something?

 

Pollination of these trees occur in early spring - about two months away. I hate to say this, but it is miles and miles of mono-crop orchards as far as you can see trees in a semi-desert not a single weed, only trees. The 65000+ beehives they will be using are gradually beginning to assemble in my area. The season is ~6 weeks long and the bees will then be trucked off to the next spot somewhere in the Dakota's..

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Almond trees what are they ?

You just help yourself!

P.S. I saw 4 bees within half square meter of kanuka today. Is this a record?

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Trees to grow Almond nuts! Was that a trick question or something?

 

Pollination of these trees occur in early spring - about two months away. I hate to say this, but it is miles and miles of mono-crop orchards as far as you can see trees in a semi-desert not a single weed, only trees. The 65000+ beehives they will be using are gradually beginning to assemble in my area. The season is ~6 weeks long and the bees will then be trucked off to the next spot somewhere in the Dakota's..

One of favorite bee books is The beekeepers lament by Hannah Nordhaus. She covers almond pollination. To be honest it is really scary.

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Of course it is scary. On a personal level it is outrages. But, my posting on this forum, under this category, was a "heads-up" to developments occurring in other parts of the world - just think of it as educational material, that could be an opportunity in your part of the world (not the mono crop side of things which is bad, bad ...)

 

As a hive manufacturer, I am only negotiating with one grower (perhaps the biggest in almond production) and the first bid, if successful will require me to use well over 4 million nesting tubes. For me, the business opportunity is enormous - but, it also takes the pressure off the Honey Bee which would be very helpful for the bees & beekeepers.

 

My initial question in the opening line of my posting has failed in getting any reply or response ...... ? Can I assume you have no native bees similar to our Mason Bee? If so, I find that rather strange...

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Perhaps, I should also post something about how Pollinators operate here in the USA (again, strictly as a "heads-up" warning), but I am not sure which forum would be adequate - Bee Hive Management??? Or, is this even the right site for such discussions at all???

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Can I assume you have no native bees similar to our Mason Bee? If so, I find that rather strange...

@shazoom. Yes we have mason bees here in NZ. I don't know anything about them, other than they are solitary bees and nest in banks and in masonary walls. There are around 30 plus species of native bee in NZ, so I am sure they do all sorts of pollination..

 

 

Perhaps, I should also post something about how Pollinators operate here in the USA (again, strictly as a "heads-up" warning), but I am not sure which forum would be adequate - Bee Hive Management??? Or, is this even the right site for such discussions at all???

 

I suggest you start a thread on your pollinators etc, I am sure there are a lot of people on this forum who will be interested and knowledgeable about this. You will only find out if you post something.

 

Can you submit some photos about your warre hives with the mason tubes, we have a member on here who makes Warre Hives for hobbyists. @dansar

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Trevor, thank you for that feedback on NZ mason bees. Glad to have an answer!

 

Keeping mason bees is fairly simple and the best analogy I can provide is its similarity to keeping silk worms (when I was a kid, we all indulged in this hobby - great for education on that whole metamorphosis thing ....) Yes, they are solitary, insects (bees), lay eggs in a tube - roughly ~7 to a tube, the emerging grub will spin a tiny cocoon, and hibernate/morph until following season to fly out as a bee. Their season, like the silk worm is well co-ordinated with the season of blossoming trees ( the silk worm or grub co-ordinates to the Mulberry tree leaves and has a voracious appetite for those leaves - do not put them on the trees. pick the leaves and feed them separately in a box). Since the seasons for both Mason bees and silk worms is relatively short, most of the year they are stored in a cool/dark area - not a lot in labor requirements.

 

So, the requirements for Mason bees is to collect the tubes when no more tree blossoms around. Gently break the mud walls that separate the cocoons, clean (wash & dry) cocoons and store. Thoroughly, with small brush clean the tubes (this is very important - there are mites and pests that quickly develop in those tubes) and store in sealed container for next seasons use.

 

Yield, one Mason may pack between 1 to 3 tubes - depends on fertility. Each tube will hold 7 cocoons, and the two or three closest to opening will be males (they emerge first). You can do the calculations here.. Basically, you can increase your bee numbers 4 times on average per season.

 

I will send some pictures per your requirement in the next few days. I also suggest you go to G+ "communities" section and look at World Wide Beekeeping scan posting Mason Bee hive pictures will be clear to identify. Since I make Warre Hives, using the same foot print was a no-brainer. I offer both integrated Mason hives with Warre hive or stand alone just different mounting.

 

All the best and thank you for your interest regarding the use of alternatives bees for pollination - give our honey bees a break!

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All the best and thank you for your interest regarding the use of alternatives bees for pollination - give our honey bees a break!

 

I'm not clear on how the bees get a break here. Surely they'll just carry on doing what bees do until they run out of gas ? How can introducing competition for a resource help the bees ? It's not as if they're on contract, they're gathering food .

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Shazoom we do not have the same kind as you, I doubt any of ours would be commercially viable.

 

However many years ago, a beekeeper I knew imported some illegally, hoping to get a pollination thing going, can't remember what crop he was targeting but it was something that those bees do better than apis melifera. However he was discovered and the bees destroyed.

 

What got me about the whole thing was I knew this guy for several years and he was a sensible well known guy, the last guy you would ever think would do something like that, when I was told about it I did not believe it till I was shown a newspaper report.

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As you may already know, Honey Bees collect pollen and basically stuff it into their small leg pouches. Other type of bees, especially the solitary types, basically coat themselves with pollen, by rolling around in the blossom or flower, allowing the pollen to adhere to their hairs for transportation. So, as a pollinator, they are ~10 times more effective in a bee-to-bee comparison. So a thousand Mason bees can do the job carried out by 10,000 Honey bees. And, as in life generally (applicable to us as well BTW) competition, especially with different species, can increase productivity. Thus lowering the total numbers required.

 

As soon as time permits, I will be posting under a different category "The pollination process in the USA" which will explain the reasons why our honey bees need a break. Currently, our honey bees are "hammered" and treated worse than the slaves of cotton-picking days....

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Alastair, sorry we cross posted here - the above response was @yesbut.

 

The Blue Orchard Mason Bee is basically native to California or Pacific Coastline - West of the Rocky Mnt. That is why I use them. But, there are many, many solitary bees that perform the same function and generally do the same "tube thing". The earlier descriptions in this post already confirm this. I am relatively sure that they (not by name, but actions) are already their, no need to import anything.

 

NZ has done a good job regarding protecting your own flora & fauna and I would never suggest or encourage anything contrary to this fact.

 

The strange thing is that the tube size and dimensions serve many, many species. 20,000 different kinds of bees in the world and new ones are continuing to be added to this list, as we speak.

 

Nothing is commercially viable, until you try it!

 

All the best

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Mason bees are a type of wasp that live on spiders so I doubt they do much pollinating stop

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1 hour ago, john berry said:

Mason bees are a type of wasp that live on spiders so I doubt they do much pollinating stop

Mason wasp pictured here:

https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/resources/identification/animals/bug-id/what-is-this-bug/bugs-with-legs/6-legs/bees-and-wasps/mason-wasp

  • "The female builds a nest of several cells made of mud, often in folds of curtains or keyholes
  • She lays an egg in each cell and provides a paralysed orbweb spider as food for the emerging larva
  • Adults eat nectar"

Is there a Mason bee too?

Can anyone know a site or book that has all the NZ native bees listed with photos?

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Their a pain in the bum when they make nests in exhaust pipes of lawn mower, chainsaws, weedwackers, jackets that havnt been worn in a while ets etc.

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