Buying Bees


#1

Where are you buying your Mason and other pollination Bee’s this year?

When buying bees for the first time how many should one need for a back yard 10 trees or so?


Bee Keeping Supplies
#2

I was considering the same thing and would like to add another question to it. Do they require a queen or anything else?


#3

For comparison, a colony of honeybees would cost in the neighborhood of $150 to $200 if rented for pollination. Good luck finding a beekeeper willing to set 1 colony.


#4

I started out with about a dozen Mason bee cocoons,which have grown to over a hundred,every year.
There is a local business,Crown Bees,that sells all the things to get started.I’m not sure if bees are different on the West and East coasts.bb
PS I just tried to go on their website,but it may not be properly set up and my security software blocks it.They do have a Facebook page though,for information.bb


#5

What I know about mason bees is that they are solitarity, no queens. each female finds a hole and fills it with around 5 larva.


#6

https://crownbees.com/

I bought both Mason and leafcutter bees from them last year. We had a cold, late, wet spring and the Mason bees disappeared. Leafcutter so mostly did the same, but do have 4 filled tubes of them.

I had the most luck with a $5 beehouse purchased at Dollar general. Several kinds of native bees showed up and filled almost every tube.


#7

You have had better mason bee success than I have had! I ended up getting a package of honey bees this year for the first time. You get 3 pounds of bees and a queen in a cage with attendants. I was intimidated, but it has gone really well. This year I had more Belle of Ga peaches than I could handle, even with freezing and canning them. I think the bees really helped!


#8

I like the idea of blue orchard mason bees. They abscond, though, which hasn’t stopped me from buying them over and over again. I bought horn-faced bees once, and they stuck around better. Of those I saved cocoons two years before I lost them all. They say that your experience will be better if you can buy strains of mason bees that come from your area. They are synchronized to your season and naturally emerge at just the right time. I think holding them in the fridge for a couple of weeks can stress them and possibly cause them to abscond. Certainly prying them out of their cocoons can cause that, which is tempting to try if they don’t get going a couple of days after you warm them up.

Buy loose cocoons that have been cleaned. I’ve bought tubes that were infested with mites.

The take-away from my experience is this: Put out nesting materials. If you’re in a good area (I’m not.), mason bees will come to you, and you won’t endure the expense and frustration (not to say responsibility) of bringing in exotics that interfere with local populations.


#9

When you listen to joel salatin he talks about after 3 to 4 years of natural farming they can basically find almost all the native bees repopulated on his farms and many that people thought were gone from the area. I put up mason bee houses right away eventually i gave up and got honeybees, It took me 3 years before i got any wild mason bees but then they moved right on in, 2 years before the beneficial wasps and bumblebees would show up so i think they will move in if you provide them a natural area free of pesticides. I live near the largest natural area in North America (The Rockies) so we probably get more beneficials and its easier but there is lots of accounts of natural farmers within 6-7 years repopulating beneficial insects that were thought to be gone all over the World. I honestly believe that herbicides and pesticides in conjunction with habitat loss are why so many have disappeared and once areas stop using weed n feeds and other herbicides and pesticides the beneficial insect population will rebound.


#10

When I started on my garden, I didn’t realize bees might be a problem but got lucky. I also didn’t make too hard a conscious effort to have a reliable food supply but did end up with pretty much continuous flowers for most of the season. No sprays, aside from sulfur dormancy on the fruit trees.
We now have lots of several species of bumbles as well as several types of wild bees and someone has honey bees around that visit too.
If you have the room for a few other plantings, I really believe it helps to have food for the pollinators around for as much of the season as you can manage.
Side benefit in a best case is staggered flow of edibles! (Which I’ve mostly managed since we have fruit flowers from first bud break, the daffodils here, right up until hard frost in the fall)


#11

In Canada some of our seed catalogues offer Mason Bees. I started with 10, my son also started with 10. I now have 30 cocoons in my fridge and his number is 4 times that.

We have very late springs and the bees came one month before we could expect pollen , but tucked in the fridge we managed to get them thru and now I think they are in sync with our seasons.


#12

I am trying honey bees for the first time this spring. I have a feral colony that set up shop in one of our shed walls. So far, if I put my ear close to the wall, I can still hear a soft hum. My fingers are crossed that they have enough honey stored for the spring.


#13

Best of luck to you. I think you will really enjoy it. It has been really unseasonably warm here. I didn’t expect the bees to come out during the winter, but it is a little reassuring to see them on warm days. I’ve listened with my ear to the hive myself :blush:


#14

Sad day for me today. I have two hives. One I already knew was weak and would probably not make it through the winter. Today I did a winter check on both as they were not flying in the past few days during warm weather. No noise, no luck with a tap, pulled of the mouse guard and still nothing. Finally opened them up and no bees still alive. I was devastated! I was so excited to have bees during the early peach and pear season for the first time–and now this! I checked each super and each frame. Plenty of honey. A few mites, but more beetles. I think it was beetles that weakened them. I am so very disappointed.


#15

The small hive beetles can definitely cause havoc in a hive Some people have had good luck with the unscented swiffer sheets on the bottom board. Every one loses hives at some point. It’s a bummer to lose everything, but as time goes on you will get better at it. Better to have 2 losses than 200. A friend of mine lost all 10 of his hives last year. My neighbor lost all 6 of their hives.


#16

It is incredibly sad that both hives are gone. I have been trying to learn as much as I can, and it is apparent to me that even seasoned beekeepers lose hives, so I hardly think it is your fault.
Unlike backyard beekeepers, they have other hives from which to do splits or they make small nucs to overwinter to re populate their hives.

If I were you, but you know way more than me, I would not assume it was the beetle, there are a few websites that show you how to do a post mortem on a beehive.


#17

Thanks midwest and north for your support!! I feel like a bad mom, and I appreciate your support and words of encouragement. I do already have a nuc on order, so I have been reading up on doing a split later on.

I am going to be more diligent about mites and beetles in the future and not leave things to chance.

Thanks again.


#18

Beetles are indirect causes of winter hive death. Beetles eat eggs from the cells in the fall leading to a colony of older bees going into winter. The young bees that are needed to get through winter do not develop. The colony then fails in January or February before they can begin building up for spring. It is far more likely that varroa was the cause of your hives failing.


#19

Could that be the case here? I checked bees, brood, other, and did not see more than a few mites. I did see several beetles, some on bees. There was a small cluster of bees in the upper part of the hive, all dead, so not enough to sustain the colony.


#20

Varroa should be known as the ‘hidden death’. I found out the hard way that just because you can’t see them does not mean they are not there. Geoff Williams - Beekeeping specialist at Auburn University - came out and did mite washes on my bees last fall. In hives that I could see no visual varroa mites, he found mite counts indicating 12% infestation rate. When a sample of 300 bees washes off 35 mites, you are looking at a doomed colony. Even a 5% rate is highly questionable for making it through the winter. Fortunately, my mite resistant bees also had a few with counts as low as 2 per 300 bees which is better than most colonies treated for mites.