In the last blog I talked about the biology of the Blue Orchard Bee, Osmia lignaria. This little bee is rapidly becoming a very important pollinator of tree fruits and garden vegetables. Two years ago an organization called the Orchard Bee Association was formed to further advance the research science and move towards making this bee a commercial supplemental pollinator to act as supplemental pollinators to declining losses of the honeybee. A little history of the organization follows. With a newly released newsletter it is becoming the go to information site for information about Orchard bees for the general public. The web-site is http://www.orchardbee.org. I also am on the Executive committee and more than happy to provide further information
This new association is a result of a successful technology transfer originating from Almond Board Funded 2009 and 2010 Blue Orchard Bee Workshops held in California that were organized and delivered by USDA-ARS Bee Biology and Systematic Laboratory scientists Jim Cane, Theresa Pitts-Singer, Glen Trostle, and Derek Artz under the direction of Research Leader Rosalind James with the collaboration of Carolyn Pickel and Sara Goldman-Smith of University of California Extension. They and their technical teams have been unbelievably helpful with providing great advice, sound research, and thoughtful proposals. We will continue to support their efforts in any capacity.
OrchardBee.org will provide an internal and external web presence to assist and promote international collaboration.
The purpose of the Orchard Bee Association is to accelerate the production and use of orchard mason bees in various spring crops and orchards.
Honey Bee Update
Honey bee losses continued this spring with drought conditions throughout northern California causing a scarcity of bloom in many areas. The issue of bloom availability is a very important one for the health not only of honey bees, but also of the many native species. The next blog will address the planting of bee gardens, varieties of plants that bees like, how to create spaces and how to maintain them throughout the season as well as sources of bee-friendly seeds.
Local Orchards in Bloom
In the Sunnyslope region near Marsing the Cherries, Apples and Peaches are in full bloom and the weather has been great for pollination. The following photos are from blue orchard bees released in orchards next to my property on the Slope. I have placed nests out that are made of reeds, paper tubes, drilled 4X4 blocks and laminated nest blocks. These bees will be flying for a couple more weeks and then done for the season.
Nests for the Orchard Bee and several other species of tube nesting bees can be found in many nursery catalogs. A great site for further information about bees and the types of nests available can be found by clicking here.