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There is a natural solution for the loss of European honey bees, albeit without the hones - mason bees and leafcutter bees. I have both of these and they are easy to manage and good polinators. Mason bees are early spring bees that can be raised in very large numbers, are good polinators of early fruit and crops, and don't have to be "kept" throuhgout the year. After a few weeks in the spring the adults die and the next generation develops in the holes/tubes. They overwinter as adults and come out when the temperature is right. For later crops, there are leaf-cutter bees that come out, in Portland, about the time the mason bees die and continue most of the summer. For the cost of a few holes in your plant leaves, they do a great polination job.
Both can be raised commercially. Leafcutters are used extensively in the alfalfa seed industry in Montana (those odd huts in the fields). I established my colonies by just putting out tubes in the spring. Both were already in the area, and in fact I have 2 different types of leafcutters. The advantage if these bees include that they rarely sting, are not going to attack anyone, and don't hybridize with Africanized honey bees. I also have healthy bumblebee colonies, at least 2 species, and they add to the redundancy of my system.
posted 3 years, 10 months ago
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