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Dr. Margriet:
Thanks for the great info today at the Courtenay Art Knapp mason bee workshop on how to properly raise and care for the mason bees.  I had mentioned that we were having trouble with fruit trees that were not producing fruit.  We automatically pointed fingers to the bees or lack of them.  I left one rather important set of facts out. Actually thought of it after the course.  In an attempt to try and understand the whole picture of what was going on, I purchased a soil testing kit and found that we were very depleted in Nitrogen and that the soil was slightly acidic. So I’m wondering if bees have less of an affinity for fruit trees that may be not as healthy or vibrant as they should be. With nature always favoring survival of the fittest could this have been a factor? In other words would they choose healthier plants/ trees over less healthier ones?  Again thanks for your time this morning, Gail & Howard P., Courtenay,B.C.

This is a real good questions and I don’t have a definite answer.  Here  is what I do know.  I do know that bees will search out flowers with an abundance of nectar and pollen.  This means that trees with flowers that produce high sugar content in the nectar are more likely to attract pollinators than the trees with low sugar production.  This is a fact.   I know as well that certain tree varieties will produce better quality nectar than others.  For example, if two trees that are located side by side produce their flowers at the same time, but one has higher sugar nectar, it is the one with the most sugar that will attract more bees and produce a larger fruit crop.   I do not know if adding fertilizer will change this fact.   My advise is to try it.  Thanks for the great question.  Dr. Margriet

We have a great special happening this weekend (until Monday night).  Sign up for our newsletter  (top of this blog page) and we will email you the recent Beediverse Newsletter with our weekend special.  Happy Thanksgiving neighbours.  Have a wonderful and safe weekend. Staff at Beediversephoto-1

Mason Bee cocoon humidity cooler

Mason Bee cocoon humidity cooler. Pads for water one one side and a place for the cocoons on the other side of the divide.

Besides simply setting cocoons outside in a predator proof box of some kind, cocoons can also be stored in the fridge.  Cocoons can be kept dormant until just before bloom.  It ensures that bees emerge when flowers are in bloom.  This method is most easily done in a humidity cooler.  The double compartment is for water on one side and cleaned cocoons on the other side.  Fridge temperature is set for 2-4C .  Water creates humidity ensuring that cocoons dont dry out and kill the bee inside the cocoon.

b0f9cd19-0bc2-4b94-abf8-95808dab0ef9Harmen K. from the Netherlands writes:  This configuration appears to be the most economical to make the ”hotels”. It is made of one six feet long 1×6 and 4feet of 1/4 inch threaded rod. The four end pieces are cut from a piece of firewood. The little box is what the cocoons are kept in in a refrigerator and go six into a larger box. The cocoons have survived quite well this way.

This is a common question at cleaning and harvesting workshops.  The question is what to do with the cocoons, after cleaning the cocoons.

The simplest storing method is to set cocoons out in the winter and let the bees emerge naturally.  The main thing to keep in mind is that cocoons need protection from predators such as mice and squirrels and the weather until emergence in spring.  In nature, when cocoons overwinter in wood, they simply emerge in the spring, but they are susceptible to being eaten by woodpeckers.    Thus, like in nature, the simplest method of storing cocoons is to place cocoons into a structure that will prevent rodents from eating the cocoons.  The hatching hut is one such structure.  Well made and it can easily be set out during the winter months, and still be able to emerge in the early spring.

Harmen K.  from the Netherlands sent me his pictures of boxes within a box for storing and releasing his bees.

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This is the box the cocoons go into in November to be deployed in spring. Harmen K. (from Vlieland Netherlands)

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The box inside measurement has to be roomy enough to take one of the smaller boxes out. The hole to let the bee out is kept tightly against one side of the box.  H. K.

joes-cocoons

What do I do with my washed cocoons?

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They lift or slide of. There is a small dado so the lid will not slide off the box.  H. K.

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A simple wooden structure –Beediverse Hatching Hut-with hatching holes can store cocoons right through the winter until spring.

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