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Mud for mason bees
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John S
PDX OR
2834 Posts
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1
May 14, 2024 - 7:48 pm

I just remembered to check my mud spots for mason bees.  If mason bees can't find mud, they go somewhere else to lay their eggs. They need the mud to pack their eggs in.  I want them to make comfortable homes in my orchard.  Mud is the mason bee cement. It's important to have mud nearby to your mason bee stems/homes/whatever you hope to attract them to lay eggs into.   Some places were bone dry, so I watered them. I use cans of clay mud, with a hole drilled in the side about 1-1 1/2" up, so it will drain and be mud, but not dry or water.  I realized that on my first few, I never drilled a hole, so the cans were full of water. That's great if you're trying to drown mason bees, but that is definitely not my goal!  This spring has been either very wet many days in a row, or hot and dry many days in a row.  Not optimal.

JOhN S
PDX OR

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jafar
780 Posts
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2
May 15, 2024 - 9:24 am

That reminds me I need to turn the water back on for the orchard.

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davem
360 Posts
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May 15, 2024 - 10:18 am

I tried for several years to make a bucket of mud available to my mason bees and I experienced the same thing.  I finally got the holes in the right place to keep the mud moist for a long time.  But I never, ever saw a bee using it, and no mud was gone.  I am 99% sure they never used it.

I have tried to observe where they are getting mud, and it is always in some kind of hole, either made by me or by a mole, gap under a rock/root/log, etc.  I think the bees are VERY picky when it comes to harvesting mud.  e.g. they will often dig a small "cave" in the side of a larger hole - and they will ALL use this little cave, even when there is a giant hole with tons of exposed mud.

I will often drive a spade blade all the way into the ground then rock the space back and forth to make a 1" gap in the ground, which they use sometimes.  But they greatly prefer a nice big hole with lots of mud/moisture options.  I will sometimes refill these with water (at night) if we get a hot/dry spell.

Here are some videos of my bees gathering mud: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Hu5D.....byj4r8Wpy7

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Rooney
Vancouver SW Washington
793 Posts
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4
May 15, 2024 - 12:14 pm

They sure are wonderful pollinators. There sure are many things that can be done to attract beneficial insects. I would prefer mason bee pollinators over the many queen sugar ants that have started colonies all over my yard. I have been trying to increase mason bees but then found that only sugar ants pollinate my large grapevine. The side bar on the fencing is like an ant superhighway right now. What tools do you use to make those video clips like that?

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davem
360 Posts
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5
May 15, 2024 - 2:36 pm

Rooney said
What tools do you use to make those video clips like that?

Haha just my phone.  No editing at all.

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rabbiteye
10 Posts
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6
May 16, 2024 - 6:55 am

Was curious about a grapevine needing pollination?  Never have heard of that.

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Rooney
Vancouver SW Washington
793 Posts
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May 16, 2024 - 11:52 am

Had to go out there and verify where the correct food supply is and so you were right and I stand to be corrected about my false claim of grape pollination. No ants were found on the fruiting buds on the grape. The correct assessment as of this morning is that I have several prunus mahaleb cherry along the same fence that the grape is on. Half of my cherry trees there are aphid infested but not in flower. I never understood it to be possible that ants harvest sweet substances back to the nest, so I think that's why my initial assessment was off. 

Sounds like you know more than the little I know about grapes. Do grapes just pollinate themselves?

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John S
PDX OR
2834 Posts
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8
May 16, 2024 - 10:34 pm

Apparently, most grapes are self-pollinating.  I don't recall seeing pollinators active in them.

https://www.gardeningknowhow.c.....-needs.htm

John S
PDX OR

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