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Quicklock corn trays filled with mason bee cocoons.  Filled tubes have a mud plug.

Quicklock corn trays after harvesting cocoons and removing nest debris. A light scrub under warm water and nesting trays are ready for use in spring.


Fruit fly pupae.  They consume pollen left for the bee larva and can be a significant pest.


Pollen mites inside nesting tunnels

Pollen mites inside nesting tunnels

Helathy bee cocoons lined up inside nesting tunnels. feces on outside of cocoons.

Healthy bee cocoons lined up inside nesting tunnels. Feces on outside of cocoons.

Pollen mites, and beetle feces

Pollen mites and beetle frass (dark orange).

microscopic mites floating on wash water.

Mites floating on (cocoon) wash water.








What fun.  We had 30 participants at the Amsterdam’s mason bee workshop.  About half were people starting out and the remaining participants brought their mason bee nests.    During the harvesting process we saw lots of interesting things besides healthy mason bee cocoons.

Thank you Kate M.  I have not tried it yet, but it sounds delicious.-Margriet

“The story goes that the Pilgrims could not celebrate Thanksgiving until the ship from the Caribbean arrived with molasses.

PUMPKIN PIE Oven 425 degrees 9 inch pie

1 3/4 c pumpkin puree
¼ tsp salt
1½ c evaporated milk
Rind of an orange
¼ c orange juice
3 eggs beaten
1 tbsp molasses
? ⅓ C brown sugar – Your choice
1 ¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp all spice

Oven 45 – 55 mins.


mite removal 020410 006

Mite clusters on paper towel

These are mites washed off mason bee cocoons.  The common name is Pollen mites since they eat pollen in a mason bee nest.  The outcome is that pollen is eaten by mites and there may not be any left for the developing bee.  This can have devastating effects on the bee population over a 3-4 year period ( without removing majority of mites off cocoons).  The population of mason bees usually crashes with the result that there are no bees left to emerge or pollinate the following spring.

After washing and drying cocoons, I do give the cocoons a 3- 5 second shake in a metal sieve over a perper towel to see what has come off the cocoons.  I am always surprised at the number that are still on the cocoons after a good wash.

Initially, the deposited mites can barely be seen by the naked eye.  They are the tiniest of specs.  What I find even more interesting is that the individual mites cluster into aggregates that can easily be seen with the naked eye over a 24 hour period.  After several weeks, the clusters can be bigger than 1/4″ in diameter.  Also, the mites tend to accumulate into clusters in the small depressions of the paper toweling.

I am not sure what is going on here.  It is likely hormone driven  to form an aggregate.  Is this there migratory phase,  Is this there sexual phase?

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December 2016
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