2016 Mason Bee Lessons Learned

For the 2016 Mason bee season. I had to build a bigger house, than the PVC pipe that I had been using and get a lot more reeds to put into their house. Which most of the reeds where used up. By summer I took all the reeds out and put them in a shoe box and stored them in the garage. About Halloween or thanksgiving time frame I was noticing a lot of “pantry moths” that were getting into the house and I couldn’t figure out where they were coming from. When I went to harvest my Mason bees for the Crown Bees buy back program (which I was too late and they ended up closing it early because of the amount of bees they received.) I noticed there was a bunch of little white worms, poop and dirt in the shoe box. Definitely, not how I left them. I believe they are either a pantry moth or similar. They would eat into the mud caps and dividers and then eat the mason bee cocoon and bee. I wasn’t planning on harvesting all of my reeds this year so I could reuse them for the 2017 season. But I ended up harvesting most of them just to be safe and control the moth problem.

While I was harvesting, I found that I had a few with Chalk Broad, a few with pollen mites. The card board tubes are a favorite for the parasitic wasps which drill holes in the sides of the tube and they eat the Mason bee located in that area. Luckily, the wasp couldn’t go past the mud dividers. The worm/moths were the worst, they could destroy a whole tube. Once I finish all the tubes I ended up with at least 800 cocoons. Gave a few to my mom and her friend. So I should have close to 650-700 bees that will be released in my yard/neighborhood for the 2017 year.

Once harvested most of my bees, I placed them into the HumidBee Cocoon Humidifier, which reminds me of a cigar box or something. It worked out fine up until a couple weeks ago after I added some additional water to them. I noticed that they started growing mold on the cocoons. I am not sure it is because there was too much moisture or that I added the water directly on top of the cocoons and they didn’t dry out. Or if it was my special native bee cocoons that were the ones that started it. Not too sure, but I will give the HumidBee another chance next year.IMG_2661

For the reeds that I didn’t harvest, I put them out in the backyard PVC house so they could hatch out naturally. Seems like the bees are doing what nature intended.

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The reeds that I didn’t harvest and allowed the bees to hatch out naturally. You can see with tubes have been hatched out of.

Bought a reusable 96-hole wooden tray from Crown Bees to put in my wooden house. I might add some additional reeds or houses this year. But then again I might have to limit how many bees I can support. 800 bees is a little much for my neighborhood to handle or I need to find someone that I could donate or sell the bees to.IMG_3127

  • Looking a head for the end of 2017 mason bee season, have Mr. C build me some of the reusable trays and a couple new bee houses.
  • Maybe get some summer bees.
  • Get a BeeGuardian protective mesh bag to prevent pest from destroying the bees I store at the end of summer.
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Comparison of my special native bees (on left) and a normal Blue Orchard Mason bee (on right) Female cocoon on top and Male on bottom. The native bees will use vegetation and mud mix as a divider and end cap and will almost seems squished into a tube.

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