Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bee Barracks update

Earlier this year we posted a picture of this bee block. There are many variations to this all over the farm..small, not really noticeable, but have a big impact.

Honeybees like warm, sunny, puffy cloud, low wind kind of days. In the spring we have few of those around here, but we have lots of blustery, rainy, chilly..then scorching, parching days in the spring. Homer installed lots of bee blocks all over, the boy scouts added additional drilled tree trunks, and now the holes are filled. There must be at least a thousand of these holes drilled into chunks of wood installed all over the farm, and every hole is filled.

The Mason Bee is native to North America. Up early, even in nasty weather, they get out and get moving on to early spring blooms: for us, those are all sorts of stone fruit trees. Mason bees don't build a hive, but they do build their eggs little nests in predrilled holes. First a little nest that contains food, then the egg, then a bit of mud to seal it in, then another bit of food, an egg, a bit more mud. The males are closest to the world, the females are protected in the back. Eggs laid this year will not emerge until sometime next early spring, with the males exiting the hole first, then the females. The females gather pollen, lay the eggs, and a little less than a year later the cycle begins again.

Our fruit trees look very full of fruit this year,  Mason Bees sure help. Here are our Ozark Plums:

Yesterdays post (with the picture of the geese) showed a portion of a log that has been converted to a Mason Bee House. It is upright with a little roof to keep the rain out. Scouts made those! And those are peas climbing up all around the bee block on the inside of the hoop house in todays top photo.

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