|Small and large release box with
piano hinged lids
|Small release box with simple lid. Plastic containers are
good for interim storage, but predation dictates a
more sturdy wooden box.
Hazelnut is in bloom, bulbs are poking out of the ground…..spring must be near! (Vancouver BC)
When setting out cocoons in large numbers, safety from predation has to be a key consideration.
Rodents can chew through plastic and paper. Dave M.from Port Alberni, BC uses a box with a piano-hinged lid to hold cocoons.
When spring arrives, mason bees emerge from the box ready to start pollinating.
The small box easily holds 2-300 cocoons. The larger box holds about 1000 cocoons.
It is best not to layer cocoons more than 1-2 deep. More than 1-2 layers of cocoons make it more likely that newly emerged bees pick up the rare mite from cocoons as the bee exits from the box.
I have had some questions about candling mason bee cocoons. Joe Sadowski from Burnaby, BC thought of this idea- and it works. Candling is just like candling eggs. In a dark room you shine a bright light under the cocoon. With some experience, you can see the adult mason bee in a fetal position inside the cocoon. You can also see empty cocoons or non- viable cocoons, where the larva has died and not developed into a adult bee.
Here is a batch of mason bee cocoons. Mud has been washed off, and mites have been removed. After washing them, cocoons take about an hour or so to dry and then candling can be done.
Place dry cocoons on a petri dish or similar container,over a 6 Volt flashlight. It is easiest to do the candling in a room without windows.
Turn the lights off in the room and look at the cocoons. You will be able to see right through empty cocoons. In normal light, these cocoons look like normal viable cocoons.
You can also see the viable cocoons with the bee inside the cocoon.
Rock, move and rotate petri dish over the light. The light scatters and allows you to see the non- viable cocoons.
All cocoons sold at Beediverse are candled and non-viable cocoons removed.
Before we used corn nesting trays inside yurts, we used wooden nesting trays in wooden structures (picture below). Here, we are dealing with thousands of cocoons. How to release them is a good question.
With alfalfa leaf cutter bees, cocoons are set out in open trays (see previous blog), bees emerge and then fly to nearby nests. I have tried this method, but gusts of winds or something upsets the trays and all cocoons end up on the ground.
The system I normally use for setting out cocoons is to place them into small wooden shelters as seen in this photograph. On the upper shelf in this picture there are 3 shelters on the left hand side and 3 shelters on the right hand side. Each shelter contains between 100- 250 cocoons. The little door on the front of each shelter has a hole from which mason bees emerge. I find this shelter system the most secure way of releasing cocoons, no matter how many cocoons I have.