Saving the environment one bee at a time!
Harvesting your Mason Bee Cocoons:
1. 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.
2. When you have separated your nesting block planks you may find predators that have entered your Mason Bee condo. Your Mason Bee cocoons will be brown in color as per picture, those are healthy baby cocoons. If you see tiny small worms, or almost see-through cocoons those are predators that need to be totally destroyed. Please do not throw them in the garbage before totally destroying them first. We do not want to give them the opportunity to hatch and then come back to destroy your Mason Bees crop.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Assemble your Nesting block boards and tie them together with electric tape or a strong rubber band.
7. 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:
Open the Mason Bee blocks and gently remove all cocoons out of the Nesting channels. Remove as much mud as you can and place the cocoons in a strainer running lukewarm water over them to remove all mud off the cocoons.
Fill, a bowl with 2 quarts of cold water and 1 teaspoon of bleach. Place the cocoons in the bleach water and gently stir for approximately 2 to 3 minutes, which would take care of all mites that were left on them.
When this is done put your cocoons back in the strainer and rinse them with cold water. After rinsing, place them in a bowl with clean water and leave them there for approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Any cocoons that are not floating on the water, and sank to the bottom of the bowl, remove them and dispose of them. These may have insect predators inside of them or they are unhealthy cocoons.
Take your cocoons and put them back in the strainer and let the water drip off for a few minutes to get them as dry as possible. Put them on paper towel spreading them out evenly, then gently putting another paper towel on top to try to absorb as much water as you can off them.
The cocoons are now ready for storing in your fridge or leaving them outdoors in a cool location. If you store them in the fridge you need humidity of at least 60% . The temperature should be no higher than 38F. or 3.33C. If the temperature gets too warm they will start emerging and coming to life, therefore it is important to keep them cool until you are ready to release them in the spring.
I like to store cocoons outside in an unheated workshop till the end of November, then I put them in my fridge till spring time.
I find my wine cooler gives me the right temperature and humidity. Make sure your cocoons do not freeze, that would kill them.
They are now ready to start the new journey in the spring when you place them in their Mason Bee home.
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.
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