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Acceptance of artificial nesting sites by pollinating mason bees in commercial fruit plantations (Hymenoptera, Megachilidae: mixed Osmia cornuta and O. rufa population)
Published May 10, 2010

During a four yeas long experiment a simple bee shelterswas found to be a propermethod to increase the size ofmixed natural populations of the early season Osmia cornuta and O. rufa under practical farm conditions. Instead of the number of pesticide applications the earliness of the flowering of the fruit species in the orchards was found to be... themost important factor in the rate of acceptance of reed as nestingmediumby Osmias in the bee shelter. This relationship was negative and highly significant (r = –0.829, p<0.001). This means that much higher acceptance of artificial nestingmedia in bee shelters and consequentlymuch higher population increase of the two early seasonmason bee species can be expected in orchards with early than with late flowering fruit species. Mixed orchards or early flowering orchards surrounded by other orchards falling in bloom later consecutively may also be much favourable to mason bees because they can find continuous food (pollen) supply there for a much longer time during their period of activity than in orchards planted with a single fruit species and being apart from orchards of other fruit species.

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Preliminary studies on propagating natural mason bee (mixed Osmia cornuta and O. rufa) populations in artificial nesting media at the site for fruit orchard pollination
Published February 19, 2008

Preliminary field management studies were made to increase the population density of native early spring Osmia species (O. cornuta, O. rufa) at fruit tree plantations in Hungary. Initial bee activity around artificial nesting media and the population increase during consecutive years were much smaller at large commercial fruit... orchards under intense chemical plant protection than in small mixed fruit plantation with moderate or low pesticide usage. Osmias accepted all the four kinds of tested artificial nesting media (reed, bamboo rods, hardwood blocks and light walling blocks with drilled holes). Reed provided the best nesting conditions so it is suggested to be used in the practice. Calculations showed that under favourable conditions more than 50 to 100 thousand incoming flights (arrivals or landings) occurred in a single day around a single bee shelter and this makes enormous number of possible bee visits at fruit tree flowers. For this reason it is strongly recommended to put simple bee shelters filled with artificial nesting media into fruit orchards. Experiences show that the population sizes of Osmias increase during consecutive years without any specific additional maintenance except providing shelters and nesting media.

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