Mason Bee Time Again March 10, 2015 20:25

It's a beautiful spring day, and I don't care that the equinox won't arrive for a week and a half! Just walking my bike from the curb to my front door I admired a multitude of spring blossoms:

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Cherries Daffodils      and pansies!

 

Blossoms blooming - especially trees - means it's time for the bees to come out of their winter hibernation! I checked on the mason bee cocoons I carefully stored in the back of my refrigerator.

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hellooooo back there!

 

They need to stay cold or they'll wake up. They also need to be dry enough not to mold, but have enough moisture that they don't dry up and die. Last year I had good results storing them in a jar with a loose fitting lid and a little piece of damp paper towel. I had lots of cocoons last fall, so I'm hoping for a good population of bees this year!

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 I didn't want them to get thrown out with the leftovers by mistake

 

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cozily nestled in an envelope

 

I had cocoons from two separate boxes (the same ones I'm using again this year, below) so I separated the cocoons by putting each batch in an open paper envelope.

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it may look like junk mail, but it's an envelope of bees!

One of the envelopes shows the cocoons through the window. They look good so far.

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nice clean trays from last year

 

These are the maple trays I'm using for one of the boxes. I'd scraped it clean last fall when I removed the cocoons, and before setting it out I baked it at 400 Fahrenheit for about an hour to kill off any mites that might still be on it. When two boards with routed grooves are sandwiched together (and held with electrical tape) they form (mostly) round holes, shown below.

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secured with electrical tape

 Holding the trays together with electrical tape makes it easier to remove them as a unit in the fall. Otherwise you'd be pulling the trays out of the box one by one, possibly crushing cocoons in the process.

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paper tubes

 Here's the other box with a small bundle of DIY paper tubes. I didn't have as many left over from last year as I'd hoped, but if I have time I'll make more and add them. You make these by rolling paper around a pencil to get a tube roughly 5/16" in diameter. The back end can be closed off by a variety of methods - folding it over, stuffing it with wadded paper, glue, etc.

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the mounted house

 An odd perspective of the mounted mason bee house. Those are the cocoons in their envelope leaning against the tubes. It's neither necessary nor desirable to place the cocoons into the tubes. They need to wake up in a certain order (males first) so it works well just to place the cocoons inside the shelter of the box. Now go forth and prosper, you native bees!