Saturday, July 25, 2009

Warre Bee House Entrances

These are the front porches I will screw over the slots on the front of the bee house. Each one will be a different colour to prevent drifting on so closely positioned entrances. This first one is white. This first photo shows the entrance reducer fitted allowing only one bee space utilized in a robbing scenario.

This next shot shows the metal piece turned around and allowing a gap of 7.5mm x 70mm which acts as a mouse guard.

Here the metal piece is removed and the entrance slot is fully open and will exactly correspond with the slot on the bee house front wall.

Warre Bee House Takes Shape

The first photo shows the eye screws set at each corner to enable connection of a 4 arm lifting sling.

This next shot shows the Bee House in position sat on 4x4 skids and concrete blocks. It had to be positioned in it's spot in the apiary as it was getting too heavy to move.

This photo shows the position of the cross bar over which the lifting sling will be put. It doesn't perhaps look like it but it is positioned exactly so that the sling comes down half way across the warre boxes.

Here you can see the slots cut into the front of the bee house. These slots will correspond to the gap in the warre bottom board.

Each slot will have a front porch type entrance which will be shown in the next post.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Progress on Warre Bee House/Box

I made a little more progress on my warre bee house in the last couple of days. I am sort of designing it on the fly. Basically I want to enclose the warre hives with another box of sorts. The objectives are to 1) provide more shelter from the weather 2) house up to 5 warre hives. 3) provide protection from large animals which may knock over a lone standing warre. 4) house the means for lifting the warre boxes when heavy with bees and honey.

Here is a photo of the bee house in progress (on it's side with the front uppermost). It has a framework of 2x4's and a 1" ply floor. The front and sides will be half inch ply. Slots will be cut into the front to correspond with the warre entrances. I will also be putting the warre slotted metal entrances over each station. The front of the warre boxes will be pressed up against the front of the bee house front wall. The rear will have two large doors for access to the hives. I am inbuilding a bar spanning the bee house over which a lifting strop will attach to each hive. I have bought a manual winch shown in the second photo which can be slid along the bar to each hive as required. I should be able to fit at least 5 warre sections and a quilt in the height available. I am screwing eye bolts into each corner of each warre section and will make up a suitable lifting strop with 4 hooks. The bee house will sit on 4x4 skids which themselves will sit on concrete blocks. So far the bee house has cost about 85 euros including the winch.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Solitary bee house attracts it's first tenants

If you click on the photos to see the full size images, the first photo shows one of the 3mm holes capped. The next shot shows one 10mm hole completely capped and one in progress being filled about a cm back from the edge of the hole. The third shot shows 3 10mm holes completely capped with a grey mud like substance. I assume these are mason bees in the large holes, which type I have no idea as I have not managed to see any activity. Indeed one day there was nothing apparent then the next I noticed these. This from wikipedia on the Mason bee lifecycle:-

The bees emerge from their cocoons in the spring, with males the first to come out. They remain near the nests waiting for the females. When the females emerge, the first thing they do is mate. The males die and the females begin provisioning their nests.

Osmia females like to nest in narrow holes or tubes, typically naturally occurring tubular cavities. Most commonly this means hollow twigs, but sometimes other similar spaces are used, including empty snail shells (they do not excavate their own burrows, unlike many bees). A female might inspect several potential nests before settling in.

Females then visit flowers to gather pollen and nectar, and it will take many trips to complete a pollen/nectar provision mass. Once a provision mass is complete, the bee backs into the hole and lays an egg on top of the mass. Then she creates a partition of "mud", which doubles as the back of the next cell. The process continues until she has filled the cavity. Female-destined eggs are laid in the back of the nest, and male eggs towards the front.

Once a bee has finished with a nest, she plugs the entrance to the tube, and then may seek out another nest location.

By the summer, the larva has consumed all of its provisions and begins spinning a cocoon around itself and enters the pupal stage, and the adult matures either in the fall or winter, hibernating inside its insulatory cocoon. Most Osmia species are found in places where the temperature drops below 0°C for long durations, like Canada, and they are well-adapted to cold winters.