Mason Bee Post #3

Cleaning the Mason Bees Post #3

Today was the day to clean out the mason bee house, harvest the cocoons, and put them in the little storage container in the fridge after making sure they were clean and mite free.  This was by far the most fun and rewarding part of the mason bee experience I’ve had yet.   It really was incredible!

 

 

To help me figure this all out I have been referring all along to the monthly posts I get from the Crown Bees website at www.crownbees.com  Before getting started it’s a good idea to read the instructions thoroughly and have what you need for cleaning at your disposal.  In their instructions they say to have a couple bowels ready for the debris from the tubes, a bowel of water for cleaning, scissors, a knife, and a strainer.   I found a few other things very useful too.  Since I didn’t have any sand, I used Q-tips to clean the individual cocoons.  A flathead screw driver was necessary to open up the back of the bee house and was also useful for pushing the tubes out from the channels. A little pick was helpful too when I needed something pointy to pry the black plugs out with.

 

 

The mason bee house that the kids at McCormack Elementary made really made this whole process easy and convenient.  The back screwed off easily to access the back of the house and push out the tubes, and I was surprised to find that they had put black plugs in the back end of each tube.  I’m assuming that is to help keep parasites and mites from entering the tubes from the back end.   What a good idea!

 

 

After removing the back of the house I could see that there were 4 more tubes that were partially filled.  One of those was really a mess.  It was very yellow and looked like the cocoons had been infected with something like a yellow mold or fungus, or maybe it was just pollen gone wierd.  Hopefully, I’ll find an explanation later and be able to prevent that from happening in the future.  It would have been disastrous if that had happened to more of the tubes.

 

 

 

The other tubes were very easy to open up and unravel, and they contained very normal and healthy looking cocoons, thirty five in all.  It’s interesting how the number of fully developed cocoons differed in each tube.  Two had six cocoons, two had five, two had four, one had three and one had two.    From photo #6 you can see how much mud,debris, pollen, poop and everything else that comes out of the tubes.

 

 

When I do this next year, I will make sure to have clean sand available.  It would have been very convenient to clean the cocoons in the sand as opposed to lightly rubbing all 35 with a cotton Q-tip.  It was time consuming, and I suspect it is easier on the cocoons to be massaged clean by sand rather than rubbed by a Q-tip.   It still worked well, though, and after I did the best I could with the Q-tips I carefully shook them around in the strainer to release even more small particles and the little specs of poop. It’s okay to wash the cocoons with water too, but that just made me too nervous.  I might try that next year if I have plenty more cocoons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It makes me happy to know that out of the initial 20 cocoons (3 were no good), I got 35 new cocoons from the original 17 bees.  Hopefully they are all healthy and will survive their winter dormancy in the refrigerator until I put them back out in March for a new season of pollination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s projects and new adventures like these that make the whole backyard farming experience a real joy!

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2 Comments to Mason Bee Post #3

  1. October 29, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Hello,
    I made your Cod Filets with Blue Cheese this evening and it turned out GREAT!! Wonderful recipe.
    Kind regards,
    Vala

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