Saving the environment one bee at a time!
Removing the bee cocoons from my Mason Bee nesting block:
Carefully separate the nesting block planks from each other. Gently loosen the mud around the cocoons and carefully scrape them out onto a flat surface. Once you have all the cocoons removed from the nesting block take a piece of sandpaper and bend it to the shape of the nesting block channel and sand back-and-forth to loosen all the mud that is in the channel. Then take an air compressor or a vacuum cleaner and blow or vacuum all the mud out of the nesting block channel. You may have to repeat this one or two times to ensure they are clean. Turn your nesting block boards around and also blow them or vacuum them completely clean, using the same procedure on the house to make sure that there are no mites left behind. Assemble your Nesting block boards and tie them together with electric tape or a strong rubber band. Protect the openings of your nesting block boards that no predators can enter over the winter months while it is in storage.
Cleaning your Mason Bee Cocoons:
When you have cocoons laying on a flat surface remove as much mud that you possibly can without damaging them. Then place the cocoons in a strainer while running water to rinse them off. This may take a few times until the coccons are completely clean. The cocoons are safe to rinse and you will not damage them.
When cocoons are clean place them on paper towel for drying. When they are completely dry place them in a jar by adding a small amount of play sand and gently shaking them back-and-forth to remove the remaining mites that are invisible but still there. I would repeat this one additional time with new sand.
Your cocoons are now ready for storing until spring.
Why do Mason Bees need our help in nature for their survival?
In the winter months, if we get a few days of warm weather they think it's spring and will emerge and starve or if we get a major frost they will freeze to death.
2. Parasites & Predators
The Mason Bee brings in mites from the blossoms and takes them right into her nest. The mites multiply very quickly and destroy all the food the baby Mason Bees needs for survival. Mites walk to neighbouring nesting holes. They are very hearty and will not die even in cold weather or if you place them in your freezer.
Mason Bees tend to reuse the same locations from the year before where she laid her larva. Therefore, entering an infested home where the predators are waiting for her to lay her larva to devour it.
3. Houdini Fly
The Houdini Fly is one of our latest and most dangerous predators for
Mason Bees. This fly originates from Europe. She will sit and wait
outside the Mason Bee home and wait for the Mason Bees to leave.
The Houdini Fly will then enter the home and lay her eggs on top
of the Mason Bee larva. When her eggs develop they are many tiny
maggots. The maggots will then devour the Mason Bee larva. A
solution to this is cleaning nesting blocks every fall. The Houdini Fly
maggots need to be destroyed.
Houdini Fly destroying complete Nesting Condo
4. Parasitic Wasps
The Parasitic Wasp lay their eggs inside the bee larva. Dozen of adult
wasps emerge from each affected bee cocoon and return to infect the
larva the next pollination season. Harvest the cocoons to reduce the
attack of these sneaky pests. In June, when you see no more Mason
Bees flying in and out of their nesting blocks, remove your nesting
blocks and put them in a safe cool place. This will prevent predators
from trying to enter the nesting blocks.
Nesting Block Systems I do not Recommend:
1. Nesting Straws
I do not recommend Mason bee Nesting block with nesting straws. The mites that the Mason bees bring in their home are very small. Therefore they will travel throughout the Bees nesting block inside the straw, also underneath the straw. When you remove the straw from the nesting block there's always a supply of mites being left behind in the existing channel to devour your new crop of baby Mason Bees in the spring.
2. Bamboo Nesting Blocks
Mason Bees like bamboos sticks as nesting block. I do however not recommend bamboo sticks. Bamboo sticks come in various sizes, some openings are too small or too large. Some are too short with knots in them which will only give you a small supply of male Mason Bees. They cannot be cleaned unless you totally break them then they are not useable. Cleaning Mason Bee nesting block is a must in order to have a successful healthy Mason Bee crop.
3. Plastic Mason Bee Nesting Block
They are too cold for the bees. Wood is a warmer product which is the same when they're out in nature.
Mason Bee Rentals
I am considering renting out Mason Bee homes with nesting blocks. I will inspect the location to make sure it is suitable for Mason Bees before I rent out the home.
Custom Observation Trays
Locations of our Mason Bee Homes
Here are some of the parks and public locations where Mason Bees are hard at work and creating excitement:
Sendall Gardens - Langley, BC
Darts Hill Gards - Surrey, BC
Fleetwood Park, Surrey, BC
Hawthorne Park, Surrey, BC
Southmere Village Park - Surrey, BC
Campbell Gold Honey Bee Farm - Abbotsford, BC
Tanglebank & Brambles Bistro - Abbotsford, BC
Queens Park - New Westminster, BC
The Quay Quayside Drive - New Westminster, BC