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gavin
21-04-2011, 05:14 PM
After my trip yesterday to see a cottage-owner with bees in his roof (its in the blog), back at home we have red mason bees too. I'm pretty sure that we've seen these in past years but they never stopped long enough for a photo. I've also had mud-lined pollen-provisioned nests under the roof of empty hives in past springs which were almost definitely these creatures.

Today they were doing little circuits at the front of the house. Coming in, darting about, landing on either a woody rose stem or the wooden upright for a trellis, then after a minute moving up and onto a small brick overhang above the window where they work their way along to the left and disappear for a while. Both males (tufty white faces) and females. Is this some sort of patrolling mating ritual as some male bumblebees are supposed to do? Nice little things anyway.

http://www.sbai.org.uk/images/male%20Osmia%20rufa.jpg

http://www.sbai.org.uk/images/male%20Osmia%20rufa%202.jpg

http://www.sbai.org.uk/images/female%20Osmia%20rufa.jpg

kevboab
07-05-2011, 05:03 PM
Any idea as to what this wee chap is. Keeps flying around a red tail nest site i have in my garden.

gavin
07-05-2011, 06:53 PM
Hi Kev

Nice red-brown hairs, hairy legs for gathering pollen, superficially honeybee-like, not a mason bee (black thoraxes). Has to be a mining bee, an Andrena. Probably a male, as I believe that female mining bees enjoy a good beard on their male companions (sensible creatures).

I was about to vote (as if we haven't voted enough this week) for the tawny mining bee, Andrena fulva. I believe it is around the Carse of Gowrie and Dundee despite the map at NBN Gateway having only sparse records for Scotland:

http://data.nbn.org.uk/interactive/map.jsp?srchSp=NHMSYS0000875063

It makes little earth volcanoes in people's lawns. You can read more here.

http://www.bwars.com/Files%204%20downloading/Info_sheets/06_Andrena_fulva_1col_infosheet.pdf

However yours has a black abdomen. These pictures (http://www.natureconservationimaging.com/Pages/nature_conservation_imaging_gardens_bees.htm) show its friend Andrena nitida which seems to look more like your one. However it shouldn't be this far north (not that I know where you are).

http://data.nbn.org.uk/interactive/map.jsp?srchSp=NHMSYS0000875103

But ... here are other Scottish Andrenas which look a bit like yours:

bicolor
clarkella
haemorrhoa
scotica

Take a peek at the maps and the images here if you wish:

http://www.bwars.com/maps_bees.htm

http://www.bwars.com/Gallery.htm

cheers

Gavin

gavin
08-06-2014, 08:14 PM
Red mason bees seem to be having another very good year in Scotland. Lovely little bees, used to be called Osmia rufa but now they're Osmia bicornis. This year they've made an appearance at my main apiary, as usual, and also at the association apiary. There was one mud nest with eggs beside the pile of pollen left for them a fortnight ago under the roof of a wooden nucleus box. Now the larvae are developing fast. Would you expect them to be like the helpless grubs in honeybee nests?

http://www.sbai.org.uk/images/osmia_bicornis_larvae.JPG

They seem to have knobbly protrusions at the head end, more like walruses than bee larvae but then these are probably real bee larvae and the social bees have simplified layabouts instead.

http://www.sbai.org.uk/images/osmia_bicornis_larvae_close.JPG

Silvbee
08-06-2014, 10:23 PM
Hi Gavin

You need one of these

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/The-Bee-Lodge-Solitary-bee-box-/271517172856?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item3f37af4478

Been working on the design for a couple of years and finally got some prototypes made up.

The one in my garden is going crazy, a very good year for red mason bees.

gavin
09-06-2014, 12:38 AM
Nice. I was about to suggest that they look like they are made of sections of decking piled up with timber surrounds - then I twigged that you are probably the eBay vendor! Good luck with them. Tempted to try one myself, only it must be getting late this year for them. I have a bamboo one (gift from my daughter a few Christmases back) and it seems to work quite well.

fatshark
09-06-2014, 04:24 AM
http://www.sbai.org.uk/images/osmia_bicornis_larvae.JPG


Interesting how the side walls of the chambers usually appear double thickness. I've seen a lot like that in piled up nucs and spare supers but never noticed the 'double glazing' effect before. Pretty-much a single pollen type do you know what it is?

Silvbee
09-06-2014, 08:39 AM
Nice. I was about to suggest that they look like they are made of sections of decking piled up with timber surrounds - then I twigged that you are probably the eBay vendor! Good luck with them. Tempted to try one myself, only it must be getting late this year for them. I have a bamboo one (gift from my daughter a few Christmases back) and it seems to work quite well.

Ha you did just say that! It's a simple principal but not quite that simple. It took a few seasons if tinkering with the dimensions and groove depth and width before the bees would accept them. Too late for mason bees this season but leaf cutter bees love them as well.

gavin
12-06-2014, 06:32 PM
Interesting how the side walls of the chambers usually appear double thickness. I've seen a lot like that in piled up nucs and spare supers but never noticed the 'double glazing' effect before. Pretty-much a single pollen type … do you know what it is?

At another apiary yesterday some miles away there were more under a split board stored in a pile of unused equipment. I think this is a better picture of these wee dolphins with their funny snouts tucking in, in synchrony, to their mound of pollen. Still the same double glazing effect, and a very similar looking pale yellow, friable pollen. This time I had the presence of mind to scratch some into a folded piece of paper and today I had a look, comparing it to the type slides we made up when Magnus, Alison, Fiona and Mairi came to look at pollen.

Answer? Top fruit. Malus (apple) or pear (Pyrus). Hardly surprising, but there you are. They were ignoring the OSR bonanza a few hundred metres away and doing the traditional thing for red mason bees. Both fruits were present within metres at both apiaries.

http://www.sbai.org.uk/images/Osmia_bicornis_larvae2.JPG

gavin
12-06-2014, 06:46 PM
I've just noticed the banding in the pollen mounds. Perhaps each load deposited is then smoothed and flattened down before heading out for the next lot? 5-8 trips per cell?

HJBee
12-06-2014, 09:06 PM
So I get an idea of perspective, how wide are these cells Gavin?

gavin
12-06-2014, 10:06 PM
Maybe 5mm?

Sent from my BlackBerry 8520 using Tapatalk

HJBee
12-06-2014, 10:10 PM
That's great photography!

nellyp
15-06-2014, 02:27 PM
I have them nesting adj to my front door which is in an ideal southerly aspect, the various old rawl plug holes provide an ideal nesting option and they have been present for at least 10 years with generations reusing them.
By the end of May the cycle appears to be over for another year and mud is used to block up the entrance also occasionally the odd leafcutter also uses these holes and leaf foilage is used to block access.
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