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Mason Bees 2024
Philomath coast range
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Chris M
Philomath, OR
167 Posts
(Online)
1
April 1, 2024 - 6:16 pm

So we have mason bee working now. The plums are at peak bloom, the cherries are blooming, the Asian pears are blooming.  Apples nothing so far blooming wise(not just mine the whole area of western Benton county), European pears nothing blooming, peaches started blooming today.  Kiwi no blooms so far, elderberries no blooms so far, grapes haven't even had bud break. I checked our previous calendar and we are LATER that the last few years.  The masons were happy with the placement of houses near the apples and the elderberry, but ignored the walnut hous, so I moved it. (which was weird because its near the plums which had just a record year for fruit)Hope it is going well for everyone.

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John S
PDX OR
2868 Posts
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April 2, 2024 - 12:52 pm

I think we're a bit ahead of you in PDX.  Peaches are done. Pears have been blooming for a while now.  I am starting to see more mason bees.  I'm hoping that this climate change doesn't mess up the synchronized flowering and bee pollenization. 

John S
PDX OR

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Dannytoro1
66 Posts
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3
April 2, 2024 - 5:45 pm

We are seeing Mason and Carpenter bees here. I need to set out tubes and mud bowls. Sweat bees will probably appear soon.

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Chris M
Philomath, OR
167 Posts
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April 2, 2024 - 5:48 pm

Danny where are you, Willamette valley? We are lucky  we have a stream  running through the property so no mud problem. I have new tubes out as well.

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Rooney
Vancouver SW Washington
803 Posts
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April 2, 2024 - 6:08 pm

This year one thing most noticed is not having slugs. Missing slugs hopefully means less of other things such as codling moth. But for the latter it's way too early to tell. The first malus I saw with a single opened flower was a flowering sargents apple, and nearby a hedgerow of malus floribuna started two days ago along with most asian pear types. No edible apples are nowhere near yet.

Cherry charts: External Link for cultivars of sweet cherry (see page-1)

In the heights we are in column-3, which no doubt matches ours here in PDX. Some of the sweet cherry cultivars I grow of the several names from col-4-5 area on the right are not showing a single flower open. Which matches all parks prunus emarginata and the naturally occurring x-pugentensis'. 

I have had good success with my microscope and pictures to trace what we have in the heights for early flowering types and species. For example these couple of pictures (before and after with an image of pollen) have proven by all aspects to be prunus pseudocerasus, which are the same tree (March 30 to April 1) two days from each other. This one is capable of producing cherries but never will unless cool and wet stops persisting and pollinator trees are near which would need to be closer botanically than sweet cherries are. This prunus pseudocerasus appears to be exactly "Prunus pseudocerasus var. cantabrigiensis flowers" every single thing matches and the species is the earliest pollen donor that offers diploid pollen grains until the sour cherries come along. In which case sour cherries are barely starting to flower, so typically column-5 is the average start to sour cherry.

Prunus pseudocerasus is probably inter-fertile with all the species from eastern China and Japan (i read up on it), however the seasonal averages keep throwing a monkey-wrench into the reproductive state right here. Of them over there are cultivated for fruit and flowering. The one linked internally in the before-after is grafted high about 5 feet. 

Thanks to years of being interested I recently think I found my smallest slowest growing sweet cherry cultivar that I'm sure going forward won't be in any of the above listed ones once I arrive at my conclusions. Hopefully it's a yellow fruiting cherry and it's mid-flowering right now here in the Heights! Wink

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davem
367 Posts
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April 2, 2024 - 9:43 pm

The "freak" hot days March 14-19 woke up most of my mason bees (Camas, WA). I wasn't ready for them though, so I moved them all (six large totes) into the basement, put some ice packs on them, and surrounded them with insulation. And of course I put as many as my wife can stand into the refrigerator.Confused  I opened the basement window every evening and closed it every morning.  For the most part, that strategy worked.

However by March 26 the bees said "enough" and began emerging en masse, so I put all the totes outside our treehouse (I keep them inside the treehouse all summer/fall/winter). Here are a couple clips of them becoming active:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/fdaZ.....RUPeLp4Dc8 - I moved a few totes to the deck for a couple of days.  Clearly they were ready to get going.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/q4Ew.....nmugqxY2a6 - if you listen carefully you can hear them "chewing" their mud walls at the end.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/GRRH.....MLm6GMqzY6 - the next day

As you can see we have both Osmia lignaria (native) and Osmia cornifrons (not native) here.  The O. cornifrons seem to fill a slightly different niche than the O. lignaria - they become active 1-2 weeks earlier, and they prefer smaller nesting holes.  But of course there is a lot of overlap in hole size usage across both species.  In my yard they seem to coexist fine, with the numbers of both species increasing every year.  But I do need to ramp down my numbers since I'm not "raising" them to sell anymore.

I don't have any apples blooming yet. Some plums are done, some haven't started.  The bees are enjoying the Oregon grape and other native plants.

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Dannytoro1
66 Posts
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April 3, 2024 - 7:14 am

Chris M said
Danny where are you, Willamette valley? We are lucky  we have a stream  running through the property so no mud problem. I have new tubes out as well.

  

Lol....I am in Brantley County.   Georgia.

 

Do ya'll have Flower Beetles? A fair amount of them are out on the flowers right now.

The masses of hoverflies will appear soon as well.

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GH
Battle Ground, WA
129 Posts
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April 4, 2024 - 3:42 am

I just read a book review on bees.  It was written by Dr. Lars Chittka, from Queen Mary University of London.  Its title is "The Mind of a Bee".  

His studies have led him to say that bees have "strange but nonetheless most likely quite sophisticated minds”.  They learn by watching older bees and do complex calculations to figure out the most efficient route to follow in their visits to different pollen and nectar sources. They are quick learners with individuals differing in their ability to embrace new experiences, showing a psychological complexity.  

It looks to be a pretty fascinating read, and one that I will definitely purchase. 

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Rooney
Vancouver SW Washington
803 Posts
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April 4, 2024 - 6:46 pm

GH said
I just read a book review on bees.  It was written by Dr. Lars Chittka, from Queen Mary University of London.  Its title is "The Mind of a Bee".  

His studies have led him to say that bees have "strange but nonetheless most likely quite sophisticated minds”.  They learn by watching older bees and do complex calculations to figure out the most efficient route to follow in their visits to different pollen and nectar sources. They are quick learners with individuals differing in their ability to embrace new experiences, showing a psychological complexity.  

It looks to be a pretty fascinating read, and one that I will definitely purchase. 

  

I think that one would be on my list too based on your review.

A while back ago, maybe three years+, I was waiting in the area of Olympia for the afternoon I-5 rush hour to subside, and walked around a commercial plaza/ park that had rows of maple trees that were very young. They were in the midst of being pollinated by either of the kinds Dave mentioned. Nearby the edge of the park were several open bordered sandy bars that had been set for children to play in the sand, but that day it was being utilized by the kids that operated small battery operated RC cars. But that's where the bees (solitary of some type) were nesting. The mothers come exactly to the same place by some method of recognition and dig into the loose sand to help the brood and deposit all the pollen I saw on every busy bee that had to sink into the sand to find their way.

They sank and emerged all over the place so they were not social types with queens such as European honeybee. If they are bothered by parasitic wasps in above ground reeds then maybe these have kind of evolved due to parasitic pressure to exist as such. I just wish now that I knew which species of bee of the two solitary types they would likely be, or be close to?

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Chris M
Philomath, OR
167 Posts
(Online)
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April 5, 2024 - 10:15 am

Very cold night here, below freezing for hours, its still inthe 30s as I write this at 10AM. I heard  everywhere but Metro Portland was at least of risk of frost. Anybody else get some frost?

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John S
PDX OR
2868 Posts
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11
April 6, 2024 - 9:51 pm

I don't think it froze last night, but it was really cold on Thursday morning.  I had to be fully decked out with gloves, hat inside my helmet, big coat, etc. for my morning bike ride.

John S
PDX OR

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Chris M
Philomath, OR
167 Posts
(Online)
12
April 6, 2024 - 9:54 pm

It was 34 here, not quite freezing. Another not very pleasant day. We will see how this all works out for pollination, but there have been no bees except a few bumbles.

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larkiegarden
1 Posts
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13
April 12, 2024 - 12:42 pm

Hello! I’m new to the forum. I came here because of an old thread on mason bees. I have a community garden plot and noticed when I was weeding yesterday that there was a beautiful bee on one of my strawberries. My partner had dug a hole in the plot to transfer a plant in a couple weeks ago, but didn’t end up putting the plant in. Yesterday we noticed the bees crawling into a crack in that hole and were thinking that they were living down there

After doing a little research I figured out these are mason bees and probably are just using the crack to fetch damp clay (we added some raised bed soil to the plot but the base soil is clay). I’m worried about drowning the bees accidentally when we water the plot, especially as it gets warmer, and we need to water more (we’re in PDX). I’ll check the bee house next time I go to the garden to be sure that they’re living there, not right in my plot. It felt magical to see the bees there, I don’t think I’ve ever seen mason bees before, so I want to try and take care of them!

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Chris M
Philomath, OR
167 Posts
(Online)
14
April 12, 2024 - 3:38 pm

Larkiegarden,

 

Welcome to the forum. There are also a great number of bee that are ground dwellers. So it might be that as well(there are many bees, you can go down the rabbit hole on that if you choose). They certainly may in fact be masons as well. We bought out hobby farm about 4 years ago, the prior owners sprayed a lot. We don't spray at all and have seen an explosion of life. Bees, birds, Salamanders, snakes ,frogs, dragonflies.  I think the bees will be fine, besides pollinators make more berries!

 

I put up several mason bee houses with correct diameter tube, and boy they just really like our outdoor couch? Anyway welcome to the forum and good luck with you bees and your fruit.

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John S
PDX OR
2868 Posts
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15
April 14, 2024 - 3:00 pm

Hello Larkiegarden,

Yes, as Chris M said, there are many other bees as well. I believe I remember biologists saying that there are about 41 species of native bees. There are others, obviously, such as honey bees, that aren't native.   Mason bees make homes in roof tiles, bits of fabric, and anything else that they can find. Most of the straw stems that were in the multitudinous prairies here back in the day are now drained, plowed and monocropped.  The bees have to have somewhere to live.  We have threads on this here.  Many of us make stems for bee homes of plants like teasel, Japanese knotweed, or others that can make stems close to 5/16".

Welcome to the forum.

John S
PDX OR

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Chris M
Philomath, OR
167 Posts
(Online)
16
April 14, 2024 - 3:32 pm

Today April 14 was the first day one of our apples was blooming. I think everyone on the forum has mostly already had the apples at least start  blooming. European pears are also blooming. Supposed to be warm, but its only 55, insects and pollinators are flying.

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John S
PDX OR
2868 Posts
(Offline)
17
April 15, 2024 - 5:09 pm

I watched Oregon Field GUide on OPB last night.  THey said they don't really know how many native bees there are.  They are doing a survey to find out what they can catalogue. They think there might be as many as 500 local bees.  Some may have already gone extinct.

John S

PDX OR

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Chris M
Philomath, OR
167 Posts
(Online)
18
April 15, 2024 - 5:34 pm

So frost warning here and all of the Willamette valley, plus hood river and southern Washington and Bend. Not sure any of the bees will like that.

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Chris M
Philomath, OR
167 Posts
(Online)
19
April 16, 2024 - 1:48 pm

Freeze warning. Near us Southern Willamette valley and middle coast range and cascades will be well below freezing. Looks like Portland has a freeze watch. Just brought in more firewood, defiantly going to have a fire tonight. Pollinators are going to have a rough night.

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Reinettes
Lewis Co., WA
428 Posts
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20
April 24, 2024 - 10:23 pm

Hi folks, just me again...,    

 Some 20 years ago, or thereabouts, after moving up here to SW Washington state, I acquired some blue mason bees and made some nice nesting places for them by drilling the appropriately-sized holes in short lengths of 4 by 4's.  It worked well for awhile, but that was approximately the time when the Varroa mites were invading and becoming a prominent pest of bees.  I gave up.  ...But I have been tremendously pleased to have encountered and interacted with blue mason bees in recent days (Osmia lignaria).  I've just been so happy to see them again and realize that they've been able to make it on their own.  

     I'm pretty sure that I've listed this reference here on the HOS Forum in the past, but I'll again cite it, because I think it may be the best currently available reference for our wonderful diversity of bees though it requires, perhaps, some background in biology and an acute ability to observe subtleties:

     "The Bees in your Backyard: a Guide to North American Bees", by Joseph F. Wilson & Olympia Messinger Carril.  2016.  Princeton University Press.  ...This is not your average abstruse, academic book.  This is outstandingly done to educate the reader with plenty of photographs which aren't just for illustration, but also to show distinguishing characteristics.  

     Too many Americans can't tell the difference between a wasp or hornet or bee.  Some people seem to think that the only bees are "honey bees" despite the fact that they weren't native here.  We have a wonderful diversity of fascinating native bees that were pollinating all of our native plants before European colonizers brought European honeybees for honey production.

     Get to know, appreciate, and foster your native bees.

Reinettes. Kiss

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