Provide a Source of Mud for Mason Bees

A t this time of year as you set out your mason bee cocoons, dont forget to provide a ready source of mud. This video shows a little trick I discovered where they seem to prefer mud tunnels to gather their mud for the tubes.  This makes sense as there is less chance of predation by birds when picking up mud when the bees are out of sight.

Dig a small 5″ deep trench within a few metres of your bee houses, and bore horizontal holes into  the side of it. Put a bucket of water in the trench when it looks dry.

A late Season here for Mason Bees

It has been so cool in the last month here in Metchosin that my mason bees have almost missed the peach and nectarine blooming time.

A peach tree on the left with blossoms deteriorating, and a nectarine on the right at the south side of my barn. Three Mason bee houses are in the centre.

Update–April 15: Today they were the most active i have seen them . I started putting a few cocoons out a week ago, and have warmed up some indoors by just removing their containers  from the fridge and then setting the jar out in the daytime when the sun is on them.  Anyway a very unusual cold start for the spring.

I have several kinds of houses placed on the South East corner of our house.

 

I still have Phragmites tubes left but all out of cocoons for 2017

Basket full of cut tubes..

I package these in lots of 30 now for $15.00.I include a variety of lengths and diameters if you want.  Smaller diameters attract other mason bee species.

Some successful tubes split open before cleaning out the cocoons.

Even if you cant get bees this year, set out some tubes placed in a home made from a PVC pipe and you will probably attract native ones.

Mason Bees for Sale: Spring 2017

( SOLD OUT for 2017)

I now have mason bee cocoons available to be picked up at our farm for the Spring Season, 2017.  You can email or phone ahead to arrange a time to get them:  Osmia lignaria

 

Currently they have been cleaned and are refrigerated.

Phragmites reed tubes now available: $16.00 for 2 dozen

Costs for this year for two dozen packets are as follows:
25 Cleaned Mason Bee Cocoons = $15.00
24 (now 30) Phragmites reed tubes= $15.00

For Culturing, I also sell dried natural Phragmites reed grass stem tubes which I harvest from our wetland. I find that these tubes are the the most efficient type of tube for attracting mason bees and reducing parasite infection.

Also inexpensive re-purposed material houses are available.

Another Pallet design holding 4 dozen tubes. This website shows how to use only pallets that are chemically safe

I also have a selection of re-purposed materials bee houses complete with phragmites tubes installed . These range from $30.00 to $50.00. But I would really encourage you to make your own so samples for ideas will be available.

I am also already planning on attending the following Seedy Saturdays where I will have a display and the blue orchard bees for sale. (click on for links)

January 14: Saanich Seedy Saturday
February 4: Qualicum Beach Seedy Saturday.
February 18: Victoria Seedy Saturday.
February 25: Sooke Seedy Saturday
March 4 : Comox Valley Seedy Saturday
 

March 5 : Nanaimo Seedy Sunday

 

Washing Mason Bee Cocoons

After removing the cocoons from their tubes, it is important to give then a good wash to get rid of mites.  I do not use a bleach solution as some do, as I don’t think it is a very natural product and incorrect concentrations could have harmful effects.. I have no problem controlling the mite population either. .. I use three changes of lukewarm water in a large container. Then scoop them out by hand and dry on paper towels before putting in a plastic peanut butter jar in the fridge to hibernate until bloom time.

 

Time to Clean Out the Mason Bee Boxes

I had moved all my Mason Bee Boxes inside in the late summer so am now extracting  the cocoons and cleaning them up for storage in the refrigerator.

I was surprized how successful the longest tubes which I used (9 inches),  have been this season. Below is a picture  showing the number of cocoons I am regularly obtaining from these long tubes .

 

 

 

 

 

Feedback from a satisfied Mason Bee customer

Feedback from a satisfied customer:

On Sun, Nov 6, 2016 at 12:29 PM, Cindy wrote:

Hi Garry!

Success!! we took apart the tubes and the plastic tubes from our mason bee house. Our first year and we started with 36 cocoons from you and ended up with 141!
We’ve brushed them off nicely and have them settled in a wee container in the fridge.. here are a few pictures for you.
we found, in one tube, a small fly and assumed it must be a parasitic wasp?? Anyways..enjoy the pictures and we will get in touch to get some more tubes in the spring 🙂

Keep Predators Away from Mason Bee Tubes

I had a report recently from a mason bee  enthusiast telling me that his mason bee colony had been attacked by rats and most of the cocoons had been taken. These images show what happened. One thing I note in the pictures is that the house wqas on a fence with a platform in front of the bank of tubes. It is best to have nothing that birds or rodents can stand on, and that might have prevented this type of predation.  If one is concerned at this time of year, it would be a good idea to gently fasten a fine mesh wire screen to the opening of the box, or since the activity of the bees is probably finished, moe the house to a cooler safe location — gently because you want to be sure that the bee eggs have been secured into the food matrix.