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I am continuously on the lookout for items that might be of interest to mason bee enthusiasts. 

We have just added  a Mason Bee Home kit to our line of Beediverse products.
The neat thing is that it assembles without nails or glue!  It includes instructions on how to roll your own paper nesting tubes.  This is an awesome product.  Another big advantage to this home is that it ships flat.  Savings in shipping is significant.

Kit- Mason Bee Home

This is the perfect item for people who like to put things together.  A great school project!

Once assembled, the Bee home can be set out on an east facing wall, in a sunny location and under an overhang.  It houses 40 mason bees and is ready to pollinate your fruit trees.

The kit includes pre-cut wooden bee box, mounting nails, sand paper, pre-cut Kraft paper for 40 bee tubes, dowel for rolling bee tubes, and tape for taping bee tubes.

This home is big enough to fit a Quicklock nesting tray with 30 holes and with room to spare for additional nesting tubes or a release shelter.
Instructions include how to assemble the bee home and how to roll your own bee nesting tubes.

Six inch diameter petri dishes are very handy to have when keeping mason bees, especially when storing cocoons.  Winter storage of cocoons containing live bees can be problematic since you need humidity and air.  Petri dishes allow both air and humidity to pass under the lid and over the lip and into and out of the pretri dish.  Tiny strips keep the lid off the base and thus allowing air to pass.  All this means that living things can be stored in petri dishes.  Another good feature of a petri dish is that organisms can crawl around inside the petri dish, be safe and not escape.
About 100-200 mason bee cocoons can be stored in each petridish.  Petri dish are stackable and can occupy very little space. 
Here are a few ways to use  6″ petridishes:
1.  Store cleaned cocoons inside a refrigerator that is a manual de-frost fridge)
2.  Each petri dish can be labelled according to location and other information.
3.  Store suspect cocoons-I call these DUDS!
When candling, cocoons that do not contain a bee can be set aside and left refrigerated until spring.  In spring, the petri dish is left on the counter.  If any bees emerge they can be released.
4.  Store unknown organisms until emergence
5.  Petri dishes are stackable and occupy very little space.
Stack of petri dishes with cocoons inside a manual defrost fridge.
A thermometer is an important tool to make sure the temperature
is right for keeping cocoons under hibernating conditions. 
In late Jan temperature is lowered to between 2-4C or 35-39F

Always keep a container of water inside the fridge. 
This is an easy way to make sure that humidity is above 60%.

Label each petri dish.

In a manual defrost fridge, there is a freezer compartment
that will require defrosting each year.

In spring, the occasional male will emerge even
though temperatures are low.

For spring emergence, cocoons can be placed into Starter
cottages or Emergence Cottages.  These can be temporarily
stored in the fridge, until weather conditions are reasonable.

Store cocoons inside Petri dishes that may contain parasitic wasps. 
Place on kitchen counter in spring.  If any bees emerge
 they can be released.  Parasitic wasps can be destroyed by freezing .
Randy from Olympia has created a unique and premium product for Beediverse.
The new product is a handcrafted scoop with the handle crafted from native wood.
The wood stock is carefully dried until it stabilized without cracking.  Then the handle is hand-crafted into a scoop handle.  Wood type available is flowering plum, native hazel nut and cherry while quantities last.
The plum is dense and heavier then the hazel.  The hazel is a lighter wood and tough.    Cherry  has a reddish brown color.Go to the link below and see our new product.  This is a great product for the mason bee keeper who has everything!
Variation in hand-crafted Limited Edition Scoops

For a bit of fun, Randy took a photo while he was grinding a scoop at the grinding wheel.  What is interesting about all this is that hard metal creates lots of sparks, like in this photo, and softer metals create very few sparks. Great photo Randy!

Sparks come-a-flying off high quality metal while Randy is grinding the metal down to form a scoop.

This little mason bee Osmia californica, emerges soon after the early spring mason bee Osmia lignaria.  We have supplies of Osmia californica available for our customers  Click here for ordering your mason bees
This little bee uses smaller nesting holes and has chewed leaf material as its nest plug.  It will double the pollination season for your garden.  Each bee nests and pollinates for about a month.Click here for more details about Osmia Californica

Because of customer demand we will have Viewing boxes/Observation boxes available this upcoming season.  This is a great teaching tool.

Viewing box closed and open showing the nesting tray.
Viewing box with open lid showing
nesting tray and cotton cover.
Open viewing box showing
cotton cover and entrance hole to box.
Open viewing box showing
wooden nesting  tray.
In a previous blog I wrote about 6″ diameter petri dishes that are so handy for storing large numbers of cocoons.  When you have a large number of cocoons, it is  wise to keep them refrigerated.  Refrigeration keeps them away from predators and keep them relatively safe. BUT I must reiterate that humidity has to be at least 60%.  In order for cocoons to survive, there has to be at least 60% humidity.  Any thing less than that will kill the bee over time.  Use a fridge  that you manually have to defrost .  These fridges keep humidity over 50%.  As a precaution keep a container of water inside the fridge.
Petri dish for storing 100-200 cocoons
A stack of petri dishes filled with cocoons are placed inside this fridge for storage.  Cocoons are then placed into release houses ready for release.
 
This is the freezer compartment in a manual-defrost type fridge.  The stack of petri dishes are just below this compartment.
Use a thermometer to let you know when temperatures are too warm or too cold.
A container filled with water ensures a greater than 60% humidity.
Release houses filled with 100 cocoons are held in the fridge, prior to  releasing into the D27 yurt.  The cardboard straw temporarily plugs up the front entrance of the Starter Cottage.
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