Urban beekeeping in New Mexico's largest city.
I no longer have honey bees but am interested in finding out if there are Mason Bees in the
Albuquerque area. I see where hollow bamboo hives are available in various garden supply catalogs and I thought it would be fun to give it a try since they are essentially maintenance free. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has had some experience with them. I live in the East Mountains.
Richard Davies e-mail: email@example.com
New Mexico has a very diverse natural Bee population. I have not found a local source for Mason Bee cocoons, however providing plenty of habitat will help attract Mason bees. I usually but cocoons online, since I don't want to disturb established colonies.
Last year, I bought some Orchard Mason Bees (Osmia lignaria) and a house for them, as I have done before in Colorado. However, they did not take to the house, but instead took refuge in cracks in the building. This year, I have seen them pollinating the apple blossoms (So, they are obviously viable). Thinking that they would not move back that year, I re-purposed the house in a different area and some Alfalfa Leafcutter Bees (Megachile rotundata) moved into the house. M. Rotundata are fun to watch because you can see them fly with semi-circular cut leaves in their mandibles (usually from roses) from which they line their brood cell(s). I have two PDF manuals, if that would help you (I will e-mail them to you). These bees are well researched and their care and management are well documented. Don't worry about disturbing established colonies as we could use more of their kind to offset their urban mortality rates. Furthermore, some suppliers actually ask you were you live to give you the correct sub-species (which there are two). On the other hand, you can place out a empty house and see what happens (but make sure you have a solitary bee presence in the area).
P.S. Make sure that you chose a house that is manageable/inspectable. The bamboo tubes are not inspectable and can lead to disease and parasitism by egg laying wasps and mites. This is the same reason I despise top-bar hives for honey bees - bees that are not properly managed are dead bees - I also find it unethical to keep animals that you are not going to actively take responsibility and care for. Thus, use a house with separable trays.
Also, make sure that you give them mud-clay and water. Furthermore, study their life cycle as their active and hibernation cycle is vastly different from honey bees.
Hey, would you be willing to come give a talk to UNM Beeks about your experience?
We wanted to do more with native bees this year so we made little houses, but I don't think any of us actually had any bees move in.
Elizabeth, I really don't have any knowledge about Mason Bees. I just saw a bamboo Mason Bee box for sale in a garden catalog and was thinking about buying one. Thanks for you reply.
Hi Will, Thanks for the Mason Bee info. Thought I might give them a try as I saw the bamboo boxes for sale in a garden catalog.