Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Japanes Hornfaced Bee

The Honeybee Alliance's newest member:

For a few days a couple weeks ago I found my apartment a buzz with bees. I was confused as they would come as early as 6:30 am (much to the chagrin of my gf) and honeybees are late risers. Who were these bees poking in every hole in my apartment?

I watched as each morning between 6:30 and 11 am anywhere from 1 to 5 bees would come into my little apartment and check out all the holes. These bees sound and look like honeybees but they have their mandibles open, where honeybees rarely do. Hence the horn face, I suppose?

I watched as two bees took to an end each of my pilates cord which hangs from my curtain rod. Over the corse of a week these pods were growing inside the cord.

I watched as the mother bee would bring in pollen, sometimes even dropping it on my floor. I was so excited to have a hive IN my apartment, a little nest of solitary bees growing right before my eyes as I went about my days.

The pollen was sweet when I tasted it off my floor.

I learned that the Japanese Hornfaced bee is actually one of the best pollinators in the world! I read on sufficientself.com that, "In an apple orchard, an Eastern honey bee on an average day will pollinate around 50 flowers. The Japanese Hornfaced Bee (Osmia cornifrons), which falls into the classification of mason bee (genus Osmia), can visit 15 flowers a minute, pollinating as many as 2,450 apples a day. It's a solitary bee commonly used for commercial apple pollination in Japan and is at least 50 times more effective than the honey bee when it comes to pollinating apples (as well as most other tree fruits.) "

After a long day at work and a long drive to NY state I came home and went to look in the tubes to see a bee face looking out at me...but this time, there was no bee, but a seal of pollen/mud? I guess this is it until October? More bees are coming around looking for holes and I am in the process of making a home for them with Japanese knotweed (a noxious weed in the area that is full of hollow tubes just the right size for these little pollinating delights)


Fabulous said...

Aren't those the really aggressive bees that kill other bees?aren't they coming up from Latin America where they were introduced as a non-native species and are now invasive? Or are those the African bees I'm thinking of??

Tammy Toad Ryan said...

African bees are what you are thinking of and even THEY don't kill other bees. They are a strong race of bees that will kill people, not other bees :) or well, maybe they will...but europeans do that too.

japanese are non native...but so am i, and so are you...they pollinate like mad and they are not susceptible to the parasites that are killing the european honeybees that monoculturists use to pollinate their crops. These bees could be of great help to us. (considering this was the hardest year of CCD for beekeepers and bees)

Abby Ray said...

How cool! Sounds like that Japanese Hornfaced Bee found the right home!

Shelley Lawson said...

Tammy Toad, you are amazzzzzing ..
Please keep us posted on this hive in a tube (and what a great way to avoid pilates "sorry teacher, the bees laid eggs in my equipment!")!