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.
In the past two weeks I have been cutting more Phragmites (reed grass) tubes for the mason bee homes. Its important to get them before the new shoots emerge as they are easily trampled or cut off while you are cutting the stems. About one in 50 stems are of suitable diameter, so it does take some time to get them. This population is one of the few left in BC. One threory is that cattle grazing in the early years destroyed most of the native populations along the coastal estuaries.This population may have been spared because of the poisonous “arrow grass”– Triglochin sp. that is common in this marsh, so it was fenced from the early times on.
These phragmites are the native variety. In Eastern Canada however, there are populations of the introduced variety that are a serious invasive species.
I have put out my first set of Mason Bees from the refrigerator as the peaches and nectarines are in bloom. There are also a few honey bees working the flowers, but once the Mason bees are active, they are much more efficient at pollinating than honey bees.
I have produced away more of these cocoons than I need for my garden and orchard so see this page for information on purchasing mason bees: http://www.gfletcher.ca/?p=1
I am now selling mason bee cocoons $6.00 per dozen which you can order and then pick up from my farm in Metchosin British Columbia.
e-mail garryf use the at sign gmail dot com, or use the e-mail form on the page linked above.
I am now selling mason bee cocoons which you can order and then pick up from my farm in Metchosin British Columbia. My price is $6.00 per dozen.
I raise my blue orchard bees in boxes like this, similar to a birdhouse without a front. The mud-filled tubes are complete, and they are still working on the open ones. The small compartment at the bottom, with a lid and hole in it, is for depositing a handful of cocoons into when I remove them from the refrigerator. This is done after their winter hibernation when I need pollinators for various fruit trees.
A section of 4 inch drain pipe can be used as a mason bee house also. A 5 cm. overhanging lip at the top keeps the water out. I also have a limited number of Phragmites reed tubes for mason bee homes . They average 6 inches in length and can be packed horizontally in any container as long as it is waterproof. Limited amount available at $5.00 per dozen.
The Mason bee tubes are generally filled and a mud cap can be seen plugging the hole of the tube by the end of April-May and no further activity will be seen . It is best to not disturb the tubes for several weeks as the eggs are delicately placed on the stored food materials in each capsule and they take several weeks to get firmly implanted.
Any time after October you can open the tubes and clean the cocoons of parasites for storage over winter in a refrigerator or a cool place outside protected from mice and birds. Some tubes may appear empty. Use a wire or a small round file to check.
Unused tubes may be used again but only if they are clean and parasite free.