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Archive for March, 2011

Pussywillow pollen 2011

Posted by blueberrytalk on March 18, 2011

Last year this pussywillow provided pollen one month earlier!

pussywillow pollen

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Do mason bees complement honeybees?

Posted by blueberrytalk on March 15, 2011

We were analyzing improved production last season in a blueberry variety where we had introduced mason bees to pollinate along with honey bees. While it is far too early to draw any firm conclusions we began to theorize along the following lines: (1) Mason bees visit a flower mainly to gather pollen. (2) Honey bees visit a blueberry blossom mostly to gather nectar. When a mason bee takes pollen from the flower this does not preclude a visit from the honey bee for nectar. The net result is that the flower gets more visits if both bees are working together than if either bee were working alone. More bee visits means better pollination which results in higher yields.

Each year we will  increase the number of mason bees until we reach a point of diminishing returns measured by the number of cocoons produced. Excess honey bees in an area wouldn’t matter because the honeybees just fly further afield to gather stores. The shorter flying range of the mason bee means it’s important to not to put more bees in the area than can be sustained by the crop they are foraging in.

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From the backyard garden to the orchard

Posted by blueberrytalk on March 13, 2011

The Mason bee is just as versatile for the orchardist as it is for the family with a couple of fruit trees in their backyard. The link below is to a site that describes the application of Mason bees to the fruit and nut industry. We are conducting trials in our blueberry field.

Get used to another name for Mason bees – Bobs (blue orchard bees).

This site is a one stop shop for info on Mason bees! Enjoy.

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Mason bees put on hold.

Posted by blueberrytalk on March 5, 2011

Mason bees emerge from their cocoons sometime after mid-March. The blueberry blossoms open about a month later. So the mason bee cocoons go into the fridge to delay their emergence until the first blueberry blossoms open. There are about 250 cocoons per container with a wad of wet paper towel taped to the lid to keep the humidity up.

mason bee cocoons

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How are the bees in early March?

Posted by blueberrytalk on March 4, 2011

The sticky board is normally used to track the mite drop. However, the wax bits on the board can be used to indicate where the bees are uncapping honey cells for winter feeding. The picture below shows the bees are feeding on the honey in the middle four frames. This activity happened over a period of five days.

wax capping from honey cells

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