Mason Bees 2016

Mason Bees 2016


2015 was a great year for mason bee activity.  To begin with I actually built my own mason bee house utilizing a design that I came up with myself.  I thought I needed something that would make it easier to place the tubes inside the house and then remove them later.  I also wanted a house that would offer more protection from the rain and sun, and this design accomplishes that purpose.  It was also very easy to make.   The house could be painted or stained, and if I used nicer wood like maple or pine instead of leftover plywood it could be quite stunning. I’ll consider this first house the prototype and then maybe I can build and decorate more houses later if I ever get the time.  One could put a larger can on the inside, but I only had so many tubes left so I used the smaller one.  On top of the tubes I place a lid with the cocoons.  To keep out larger birds I placed the chicken wire on the outside, and the twig is there for looks.


I realized this year that I didn’t have to mess around with sand or anything else to clean the cocoons.  It worked fine to use a sill with mesh that wasn’t quite as tight as my regular one I use in the kitchen.  I just shook and churned the cocoons around in the sill with a Q-tip, and most of the dirt, dried mud and debris loosened easily.  Then I brushed each cocoon softly with a soft tooth brush.


The mason bees produced 210 cocoons this year, so that is quite an improvement in numbers.  The first year I started with 17 cocoons.  They produced 35 for the next season.  Those 35 produced 150 cocoons that I put out this last spring 2015.  From those 150 I got 210 cocoons.  Not bad!


Now the little dormant mason bees will lay for several months safely encased in their little cocoons inside the humidifier in my fridge.  In April, when the fruit trees start to bloom and the temperatures reach 70 degrees I will once again put them outside in their little houses to hatch a begin another season of pollinating.

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