Monday, March 20, 2017

The Mason Bees Try Again

Bee #2 buzzed up and down the sunny window but stayed put when I put it outside. Note the tiny yellow grains that are probably mites.

Bee #3 

Several years ago I was surprised by bees in my office window. It's screened and I could not figure out where they were coming from. The window is a vinyl slider. There is a space at the bottom corner corners where the sliding channel ends. The bees emerged from that space. 

But how did they get in there? Looking on the outside I saw two holes at each end of the window. Mud plugged one hole. Evidently, the mason bee had layed her eggs in the hole the previous summer and plastered it up.

Rather than exiting that way, the newly-hatched bees followed the light into the room where they actively buzzed up and down the window. Because they only stayed at the window, I thought they weren't quite ready to fly and fed them honey water. 

A little internet research revealed that they were mason bees and take off as soon as they emerge. They were just trying to fly up to the sky. I grabbed my cameratook them outside and set up to take pictures. They flew off as soon as I opened the jar lid.

Bees hatched the next year but not the following year. Or so I thought. They were one room over in the bedroom window. I released them as soon as they emerged. The year after that the new little bees were sluggish and covered in orange dust. 

Mason bee nest holes are prone to mites, which is why, if you are providing nest sites you either discard or disinfect after the bees hatch. (As you might guess, this is why I don't provide nest sites.) Last year's brood also had mites.

At the beginning of March, I cleaned out the cobwebs and started checking the window. March 16th brought Bee #1, unfortunately covered in spider web. The little spider legs  poked out of the opening where the bees come out. Maybe the bee was bitten or just couldn't get all the web off. It died. 

The Bee #2 actually flew around the sunny widow. It was not as excited when I took it outside. Shocked by the cold, perhaps. I left it there because the temperature is not going to rise any time soon. It was gone when I came back. I hope it makes it.

Bee #3-Today's bee was walking around this morning, but now looks to have died. 
Other creatures live in the channel, like the spider who is either biting or just entrapping the little bees. The window obviously has mites that are not killed by cold weather. Something I don't want to think too closely about as it is right over my bed.

This is the thing about Nature. Bad things happen. Many die, but some fly off into the light. 

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