Thanks Frank for the great pictures. This will help a lot of folks when they open up their nesting trays.
Here’s the story, and it’s a modified version of what I sent out to the 20 members of my sharegroup.
One of my guys took 35 of his cocoons to Duncan for his brother-in-law to set out. Which he did. He had a stack of five trays with eight galleries per tray. That’s 40 galleries. The yield from these trays was 330 cocoons!! That gives a multiplier very close to 10 .. which is possible, ’cause I had results like this back in the late 90′s. But in this case I’m told that there were already lots of bees flying around his brother-in-law’s garden, so he undoubtedly captured many members of the natural colony .. just like I’m doing at Ten Mile Point.
Image B shows what the bees did in the gap behind the lowermost two trays. They built a sheet of chambers on the wall behind the two trays.
I now have three examples of nesting boxes interacting with natural colonies. This one, where the bees from the set-out cocoons plus bees from the natural colony were happy to populate the nesting box together.
The opposite situation is the nesting box and cocoons that have been set out for three years at one of our Victoria sites where there is also a natural colony, and every year so far the bees have emerged and joined the natural colony, with absolutely no interest in the nesting box.
And the third example is a site I have in Victoria (the Ten Mile Point site referred to above)with a very large natural colony in a large garden, and where I set out nesting boxes each year and harvest lots of cocoons.
I’ll have a report on our cocoon harvesting to you soon, and by the way, please feel free to use any of these images and the ones coming with the report - with an acknowledgement of course.
Best wishes for all good things in 2014.
Here is a bee tree that is different! Surrey municipality (BC) is promoting mason bees and how important bees are in pollinating and producing seeds and fruits. This tree is certainly colourful. The different coloured branches will help bees orient to their nests. Each branch has a multitude of nesting tunnels. This spring mason bees will be placed in close proximity to the nesting holes and the attending public will be planting bee attractive plants in late April/early May.
Cardboard tubes are used as nesting material for mason bees. Tubes are one of the many different types of nests available for mason bees. They are attractive to mason bees and produce a good
return of mason bees for the following year. However, cardboard tubes should only be used once ( accumulation of pests and predators over one season) , tubes do not provide protection against parasites and predators and are usually time consuming to unfurl tubes in order to harvest and clean cocoons.
All cardboard tubes are not created equal. It was originally thought that thick walled cardboard tubes would prevent parasitization of the bees. We soon found out that even cardboard tubes 40/1000″ (4mm) thick could be parsitized. It is now evident that these parasites can be reduced by using net bags in the summer and candling at time of harvest.
To make cardboard tubes easier to use we designed a cardboard tube that allows the easy harvesting of cocoons. We designed the EZY-Harvest tubes that unfurls after an overnight soak. It is simple!
Soak for 24-48 hours. The soaking dissolves the glue and cocoons are released into the water. some handling and unfurling is needed to release and harvest all cocoons. Read more about the details in additional blogs. Dr Margriet Dogterom
A question from Anne in the Kootenays (BC).
“ I was given your starting kit as a gift, and I am not clear if the cocoons
are to be removed from the nesting tubes for cleaning & where they should
be stored for a west Kootenay winter. “
Yes, it is always best to remove cocoons for cleaning. Unfurl or soak cardboard tubes. After an overnight soak in cold water the EZY-HARVEST cardboard tubes are easy to open for removing cocoons.
Store cocoons in fridge until late winter/early spring. Best to use a humidity chamber. This keeps cocoons moist at a humidity of about 60%. Later in the winter or after January, keep temperature between 2-4C.
Check out our website where there are more details on the humidity cooler.