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.
Now sold out for the 2016 season- there’s always next year!
Many garden and on-line supply outlets sell cocoons of the most efficient pollinator, the mason bee, for a much higher price. I can provide them now locally until the end of March for $6.00 per dozen as supplies last.
Mason Bees (also known as blue orchard bees) can be picked up at our farm if only a few dozen are needed or for significantly large orders we may be able to arrange for refrigerated delivery within the BC lower mainland/Vancouver Island area any time this spring. They can either be released in late February or March for early flowering peaches etc. or they can be held refrigerated until as late as June for release coinciding with the blooming times of other plants: blueberries, strawberries, apples, pears, cherries etc.
You can place orders now and arrange for pickup now or later by e-mailing.
NOTE OF CONCERN: As a former Biology teacher, I am concerned that websites advertising mason bees to send anywhere on the continent are making a big mistake in promoting population genetic contamination. As well as competing with local strains, introduced genetic lines could easily turn out to promote problems such as new parasite introduction and elimination of naturally evolved species . So be sure to ask your supplier where they have originated, in order to be sure you are getting bees have been cultured from natural varieties from your own area. That’s why I would sell only to Vancouver Island or the lower mainland of British Columbia. I have never bought mason bees. Fortunately I live in an agricultural are which avoids the use of pesticides, so native bees still thrive. My native mason bees from our farm found the first nest boxes I put up on their own, and it is from them that I continue to produce new cocoons each year.
Garry Fletcher: email to garryf use the at sign gmail.com (Jan. 2016)