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Growing reed tubes

 
Matt Saager
Posts: 48
Location: Oregon - Willamette Valley
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Out of curiousity, is there a plant/bush/tree that I can grow in my area (Oregon Willamette Valley) that will produce acceptable tubes for solitary bees.

I had originally planned to use drinking straws, as they are easy to get ahold of.
But I would prefer to grow something myself, if that is a reasonable approach.

Alternatively I suppose, would paper drinking straws work?

Any ideas?
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
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Location: zone 7
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I just made 100 or so of them out of old dry blackberry vines. Good for pith bees all left alone and when hollowed out good for others. The thorns help keep mice off.

Of course bamboo works. Reeds and other thick stem grasses.
 
tel jetson
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Location: woodland, washington
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teasel (Dipsacus species). may be considered a noxious weed in your location, but maybe not. grows wild all over the best coast.
 
Matt Saager
Posts: 48
Location: Oregon - Willamette Valley
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Blackberry canes... beautiful, I had not thought of those. Both plain and hollowed out, great idea.

We grow wild blackberries around here everyplace, so I do not need to grow them, I can grab some.

Thank you
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
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Just make sure to get the old dry ones they don't like fresh ones hollowed out.
 
Matt Saager
Posts: 48
Location: Oregon - Willamette Valley
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Hmm.... I had thought about cutting them green, trimming them to the length I need and then letting them dry until spring.
Then I can hollow them out before I put them out in spring.

It seems like that would making it easier to trim them to length.
Would that work?
 
tel jetson
steward
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Location: woodland, washington
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Dave Miller posted some great photos of mason bee shelters he made in this thread.
 
Dave Hunter
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One of the mistakes beginning mason bee keepers make is that they forget (or don't know) to harvest bees in the fall. If you let bees survive on their own, mite infestation occurs and you begin to lose more bees than you started with.

That's why bamboo isn't a great nesting reed. It's too strong and can't be opened without killing the bees.

Reeds, on the other hand are awesome... unless you leave the bees on their own.

Why manage bees? It's the same thing as managing cows or sheep. If you don't care for them, pests/disease overrun.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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You could try Japanese Knotweed. It's invasive and spreads fast, but you'll get a lot of tubes really fast. I have a small patch (50 square feet) that I harvest once in the spring for food, then cut a few times a summer for a compst additive and then a final cut in the fall to dry and use for next years mason bees. Each successive cutting produces narrower diameter stalks. The early summer ones are about an inch while the fall ones are closer to a quarter inch or so. Once dry I store them in the basement till after the wet spring then just pile them up in a dry area.


 
Matt Saager
Posts: 48
Location: Oregon - Willamette Valley
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Here's another idea for "reeds"... the dried stems from Jerusalem Aritchokes.
I had a bundle of them on the porch for a fall/halloween decoration.
After cutting them to size, and cleaning them out with a wire they look just perfect.
 
Steven Feil
Posts: 242
Location: South Central Idaho
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I have seen mentioned Raspberry canes as well.
 
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