Monday, January 20, 2014

Update on berry bee numbers

We didn't make it to Corbett last spring, so the Sturms were on their own managing the bees.  We picked up their filled nests over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2013, and brought the nests to Idaho for cleaning.  We removed about 5 cups of O. aglaia cocoons, with about 570 cocoons per cup, for a total of about 2,800 cocoons.  At the end of the 2012 season we estimated a return of about 4,100 to 4,400 cocoons.  So, the number of bees has been declining over the past couple of years. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Changing the nests

Rosie sent me an e-mail this morning:  "I just changed out some binderboards.  I mowed last night and got to look around the farm a bit.  We still have a lot of black berry blooms and late red raspberry blooms and ones just getting ready to bloom."

Here is a photo of the shelter today.  All of the flowers and weeds that were overgrowing the entrance are gone.  Makes it easier to see the nests, although I liked seeing the Phacelia.  The bottom two filled O. lignaria nests have been removed and replaced by two small O. aglaia nests..  I'm already seeing a few O. aglaia checking them out.  I had Rosie leave the top O. lignaria nest because there are still some O. aglaia making nests in it. 
From what Rosie had to say, there are still some Rubus blooms in the fields, so I hope that's where the O. aglaia are foraging now. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Phacelia visitors

This inflorescence of Phacelia is blooming in front of the bee shelter, and today for the first time I took a close look at the Phacelia and saw bee visitors.  The first image shows an O. aglaia foraging on the right of the inflorescence.  The bee in the center of the second image is darker, thinner, and seems to have yellow pollen on the hind legs, so I'm guessing a small sweat bee, Halictus

Rosie says she has seen O. aglaia on the flowers near the shelter, but not on flowers a distance away.  She also is not sure if there are still berries in bloom.  If there are, they are probably blackberry, including Himalayan blackberry.  She says she will check.

Update on O. lignaria nests

I haven't seen any blue orchard bees in a couple of weeks, but the berry bees have started using empty tunnels in the one remaining orchard bee Binderboard in the shelter.  There are still 9 tunnels with O. lignaria mud plugs, but in addition there are 4 plugs of chewed leaf material typical of O. aglaia.  At least 4 of the tunnels have bee abdomens visible near the entrance.  I think they are all O. aglaia, but can't tell for sure.

Rosie tells me that there were a few O. lignaria active around her house last week.  The orchard bees there were released quite late, so I suppose it's not too surprising that they are still active. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Berry bee on grass stem

Someone was visiting the webcam today, looking at the pre-set views, the nests and some of the flowers growing around the shelter.  I'm not sure who it was, but I hope that you enjoyed your visit to Corbett.  
At one point the visitor focused in on this individual berry bee resting on a grass stem just outside of the shelter.  I saved the image, and probably stopped the updating of the camera for a few seconds while I saved the image to my hard drive.  Whoever was looking, I hope that the pause didn't worry you.  It's a pretty amazing image from the webcam. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Yes, O. lignaria are still active!

I captured these three images in quick succession of an O. lignaria coming out of a tunnel (5 holes in from the left, third row up from the bottom of the Binderboard) and sitting on the face of the Binderboard, presumably warming up before flying away.  The top and the bottom image also have an O. aglaia going into a tunnel (top image), or sitting on the face of the Binderboard (bottom image).  the middle image shows a second bee, probably another O. lignaria,apparently coming out 
 of the same tunnel as the first bee. 
Images were taken about 1pm, sunny day about 66oF.  I shifted the camera to the right between the first and second image. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Are O. lignaria still active?

It was 65oF at 4:30pm today, overcast and wet.  There are some active bees, but most are still sitting in their tunnels waiting for some sun, or warmer temperatures.  I checked to see if O. lignaria is still active.  There has been one new plug on tunnels of the newest orchard bee Binderboard, the bottom row, 6 from the right.  That makes a total of 9 complete nests out of 98 in this binderboard.  There are also 5 bees at tunnel entrances, three on the left side near the bottom, one in the middle of the top row, and one on the right, third row down .  I'm not certain that they are O. lignaria.  Some could be O. aglaia.  Some of the heads look a bit small for O. lignaria.  I'm not sure why O. aglaia would nest in the large tunnels, since there should be plenty of tunnels available in the O. aglaia Binderboard; but perhaps most of those already have nests in progress.  The plugged nests look like mud to me, which would not be O. aglaia.