It is time to clean out nests and harvest your cocoons:)
I have mason bees at a number of sites, and decided that today was a good day to harvest cocoons from one of these sites.
The first step in cleaning cocoons is harvesting them out of nesting tunnels. The easiest way to do this is with a scoop. Once harvested, cocoons and other debris are added to a bucket of tap water. The reason for placing cocoons into water is to dislodge and loosen mud plugs from cocoons, remove some of the mites and separate other debris from healthy cocoons. The overall objective is to clean cocoons of any debris (mud and feces) and pests (mites) and to clean cocoons well enough so these can be candled. Candling allows you to remove any parasitic wasps.
I scooped out cocoons , placed them in water -and saw a photo op! A lot can be learned from examining cocoons and other debris.
The upper picture is a surface view of cocoons floating on water. Mason bee feces (yellow), mites, cocoons and bee pupae can all be seen in this picture. I cropped small areas of the same picture to make it easier to point to these features.
An additional photo was taken of a pollen lump after it was removed from the water. Pollen lumps are pollen collected to feed individual bee offspring. If this tiny bee larvae dies, it leaves the remains of the pollen lump. In cold damp springs, more pollen lumps can be seen because during cold weather, young bee larvae are more likely to die
My mother up in the Okanagan took this video of a bee hatching. Thought it might be useful for your site/blog.
Nice clip. Thanks for sharing. Margriet
I’m wondering if you would be able to identify these ‘bees’ in my dad’s
garden for me. I don’t believe they are mason bees as they’re too
‘stripey’ but I’m not sure if they’re good or bad.
I hope the summer is treating you well!
Thanks, Shirley, Cultivate Garden & Gift Ltd. Parksville, BC, V9P 1T5
I believe these are leafcutter bees. Did you see them carry leaves into the
Thanks, Margriet! I didn’t see any leaf carriers with this nest. I did
spot a leaf cutter in my own garden yesterday, chomping away on a golden
privet and they’ve made a mess of my newly planted hydrangea! I was happy
to finally spot one as they’ve been elusive when I’m around. At least, I
thought they had been until I saw one and realized they were plentiful this
summer as I had noticed the whiter looking bees quite a bit and wondered
what they were.
I also found a couple of pieces of what I think was a nest lying on the
ground in another area. I didn’t know what it was at first so started
pulling it apart and realized it was the little round bits of leaves all
rolled together like a cigarette! I don’t know if it got knocked out of
somewhere because it was just lying there in the middle of nowhere on top of
the soil like it had blown in. (This nest may have been pulled out of the nest by birds.)
Another good teaching opportunity for my kids…although they didn’t seem
quite as excited as I was.
Community gardens are growing in numbers both in cities and small towns and so is the idea of having mason bees. These are exciting projects and are a boon to educating a large number of people about gardening and keeping mason bees. The Environmental Youth Alliance of BC (EYA), based in Vancouver, focus on educating youth and the public about the importance of bees. http://www.eya.ca/pollinators-paradise.html
Others groups focus on How-to grow food.
These groups have the same issues when setting mason bees into public spaces.
- Bee Health: How to keep the bees away from the weather- Design of Shelter
- Bee Home Security: How to keep bee homes from being taken-height and nests fixed to structure.
EYA involved youth to build Shelters for their mason bees. The most fancy is the Pagoda Shelter in Stanley Park. Although I have not seen it myself-I was told that it was designed so that the Quicklock nest blocks could not be pulled out of the structure. This structure is secure. I have not heard if rain was able to run into nesting holes. Setting the pagoda at a light angle would prevent this.
EYA is also involved in educating farmers about mason bees. This field shelter placed on farmland is not so tall since it is on private property, but nests are well protected from the weather.
A combination of Quicklock -corn trays and routered wooden nesting rays are used in this project.
Although the jury is not out on this yet, it seems that if a variety of nests are used in a Shelter fewer bees are produced. It is best to use one shelter for one type of nests and not mix nest type in one shelter.
In the fall of 2010 I began blogging using the Google blogspot. In just under 2 years there were 34,455 visits. In the middle of Augus this year I moved the whole blog under the auspices of Beediverse.com. At the new location, there have been 494 visits and 1894 page views. Our next goal is to move our friends to our new blog. These friends signed up for email reports of new blogs. A handy way of keeping up with the news. I will let you know when this is up and running and you yourselves can join. Margriet