Mason bee mid-March report

The bees are doing great this year. The Osmia lignaria have already finished 13 straws. That's enough to repopulate the colony at the same level next year (100 bees). But since they're still working (I counted seven females last night), I should have an even stronger colony in '08.

I also put out the first batch of Osmia californica, four straws total. Some of the males have already emerged, and there's plenty of food for them. The california cocoons have a very pungent odor, as their food sources are different than lignaria. It's kind of hard to describe, but when I sit in the back yard, the smell in the air is shifting. It matches the smell of californica cocoons, so I don't think I'm too early to be putting them out. Also, my allergies are acting up very strongly. The pollen makeup is definitely changing.

Also, I have two nesting block for leaf-cutting bees set in the eaves of my roof. One block is fully populated (and dormant), and the other should fill up this summer. We should have bees all spring and summer long!

When I compare the weather here to Logan UT (the ancestral home of my mason bees), it looks like the ligaria would just start emerging right now. That means California is about 1 to 2 months ahead of Logan, UT. That's fine, except it means that I won't have any mason bees in May, June, and July. I need to find a mason bee species that will fly really late in California. It may be time to start experimenting with free catching.

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