Mason Bee rescue

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MoDoug

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2018
583
NE Missouri
Mason bee's have been nesting in my firewood, they're a native pollinator, important to our environment, and very docile. They take a year to emerge from their nests and I will eventually burn this firewood, so this is a mason bee rescue project. I built a couple of nesting boxes to help them keep going, I placed the boxes near my firewood, and the bee's immediately took to them. To me, they're pretty fascinating. I took some pics and a video of them. I have some pheronome on order, but I don't think it will be needed, there's already about 6 nests being worked on.

The first pic is the two nest boxes I built. The second one is a slo-motion video I took of a bee approaching the nest box in the upper left corner, and a few seconds into the video there's a mason bee emerging from a hole in the right center of the box. The boxes are already quite popular.

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MoDoug

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2018
583
NE Missouri
One thing to watch out for is the dreaded Houdini Fly. This is a tiny type of fruit fly, but with red eyes. It will go into a MB chamber as the MB is preparing the pollen ball for her egg to be laid. H-fly lays eggs on the pollen ball before the chamber is closed up by the clay wall. The developing H-fly eggs hatch which become maggots to eat the pollen ball thus starving the developing MB larva. Not good. Check to see if they are showing up in your area.
https://wastatedeptag.blogspot.com/2020/02/houdini-fly.html

www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEmqw1sCX_U

So far, I don't see any mention of Houdini Fly's showing up in Missouri. They seem to be mentioned mostly with infesting the nests of the Red Mason Bee, which I don't think we have here... yet. With a name like kleptoparasitic, hopefully we never do. The Houdini fly enlarges their heads to break through the Mason Bee's mud walls. Sounds like a super hero ability.. I'll keep en eye out for it.
 
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MoDoug

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2018
583
NE Missouri
Here are some different mason bee's sealing off their nest entrances.
 

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MoDoug

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2018
583
NE Missouri
I did get this 5 foot black snake as a visitor while I was drilling the holes in the nesting boxes. Black snake are very docile, it gave me no mind, it came in not more than 4 feet from me, just came slightering in like I wasn't there. We get alone fine. It was interesting to watch as it searched for bird nests and mice, it would go about 8 feet, pause and rattle its tail. I let him alone to help keep the garage clean of pests. I did give my wife warning that it's in there.
 

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MoDoug

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2018
583
NE Missouri
In reference to the title of this post, it turns out my mason bees do not need rescuing, in fact far from it, I'm almost swarmed by them. It seems like they're nesting in any appropriate size hole they can find. They like my boat seats, which have small holes on the underside of them, so I wrapped plastic bags around the seats to discourage them any further. My stacks of firewood are still popular, and they've easily taken to the nesting boxes I made. There are a total of 60 holes in the boxes and some are already plugged up, it will be interesting to see how many get used.
 

clancey

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2021
1,397
Colorado
That is so fascinating and interesting as well..Don't know anything about Bee's and you be careful that you don't get stung..Gosh you think you might get some good honey..maybe sell it because it is going for a lot of money...Good for you --enjoyed--clancey
 

MoDoug

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2018
583
NE Missouri
That is so fascinating and interesting as well..Don't know anything about Bee's and you be careful that you don't get stung..Gosh you think you might get some good honey..maybe sell it because it is going for a lot of money...Good for you --enjoyed--clancey
I've been fascinated by them as well. These bees can sting, but they're very docile, and you would have to get very aggressive with them to do so. They don't make honey, they're solitary bees in that they lay eggs in their own nests. Their importance is that they are great native pollinators, for wild flowers, and orchards. Very important for our environment. Glad you enjoyed it.

By the way, I don't mean to sound like an expert on this, because I'm not. I just found out a month or so ago, when I asked about them on this forum, because they're in my firewood.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,533
South Puget Sound, WA
So far, I don't see any mention of Houdini Fly's showing up in Missouri. They seem to be mentioned mostly with infesting the nests of the Red Mason Bee, which I don't think we have here... yet. With a name like kleptoparasitic, hopefully we never do. The Houdini fly enlarges their heads to break through the Mason Bee's mud walls. Sounds like a super hero ability.. I'll keep en eye out for it.
Blue mason bees here. One of our blocks is full (135 holes) so I just put up a new one. They are really busy this season.
 

MoDoug

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2018
583
NE Missouri
Blue mason bees here. One of our blocks is full (135 holes) so I just put up a new one. They are really busy this season.
We've got the blues too. Sounds like I really need to up my game!

Edit - @begreen , do you use mason bee pheromone? I ordered and received mine, but haven't used it yet, I seem to be doing well enough without it. It was an excellent suggestion, but I'm thinking about returning it. I think my bees are really established here.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,533
South Puget Sound, WA
We've got the blues too. Sounds like I really need to up my game!

Edit - @begreen , do you use mason bee pheromone? I ordered and received mine, but haven't used it yet, I seem to be doing well enough without it. It was an excellent suggestion, but I'm thinking about returning it. I think my bees are really established here.
Yes, both blocks were sprayed with pheromone as soon as the bees went outside. Our bees are not established. We are supplied them in early March and host them until June when they go back to the supplier. I can buy bees from the supplier and put up my own housing, but this way they take care of everything to keep the bees healthy. It's quite an operation.
 

MoDoug

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2018
583
NE Missouri
Yes, both blocks were sprayed with pheromone as soon as the bees went outside. Our bees are not established. We are supplied them in early March and host them until June when they go back to the supplier. I can buy bees from the supplier and put up my own housing, but this way they take care of everything to keep the bees healthy. It's quite an operation.
Good for you begreen for your efforts on this. I titled this post Mason Bee rescue, because they're in my firewood and I want to rescue what I can of them, before I burn that wood. Ironically Crown Bees says on their home page Rescue Now, that gives me more appreciation they're here. It is quite an operation.

I think over the winter I'm going to move the nest boxes away from my wood, so they emerge somewhere else, and I'll make more boxes. I need to up my production.
 
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clancey

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2021
1,397
Colorado
Wow there is a Bee rescue going on here--how neat--be careful---and the picture of them make them look so fuzzy and hug able---more power to you and best of luck with that operation and one never knows maybe something with the ideas will extend from that for you people to fool around with--good for you both...Just be careful even if they are gentle bees--be careful...Mrs Clancey
 
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