Loss and a Promise of Rebirth

Sadly, the honeybees/hive that a neighbor set up on our properly failed. They didn’t produce enough honey to harvest and with last week’s snow and low temperatures, they couldn’t get up into the upper box to access the food reserves, so they starved and died. While it’s sad that we lost these pollinators, in a way it’s a blessing since my neighbor asked that the hive be moved (he was freaking out when a lot of gather at his bird baths on hot days).

I just harvested all my mason bee cocoons today with a total of over 2000 cocoons! I have already given them a mild bleach bath and they are drying on paper towels right now, before going into a special box and in my refrigerator. With that many cocoons, even if only half of them hatch, our fruit trees will have plenty of pollinating help!

Once it’s warms up into the 50s on a regular basis…and the fruit trees are blooming, I’ll move the cocoons out to the porch when the sun will warm them and wake them up. The males will emerge first and hang out until the females emerge. Then it’s sex in bee city! Truthfully, it’s rather fun to see them emerge and start mating within minutes. They are also very docile and don’t mind crawling over my hand (leaving bee poo in their wake). When the bees start emerging, I know that it’s really spring time!img_1822

As One Ends, Others Start

I’ve been raising mason (orchard) bees for four springs¬†now and they have been really beneficial in pollinating my fruit trees and making the fruit taste better. I had harvested over 700 cocoons in March and by this time, only a few of the hatched bees are left…the others have filled nesting tubes with eggs (they die after they lay all their eggs).

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This year, an apartment-dwelling neighbor has set up a small honeybee hive on top of our garage roof and filled it with 10,000 honeybees. There are so many, I can look out my office window and see them collecting pollen from the blooms on my maple tree.

Earlier this morning, I went outside and got closer to the hive to see observe her bees. They were actively flying in and out of the hive. Some were even getting a drink from the water pan.

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My mason bees are almost done laying eggs and will die soon, so my work is done until the end of winter. The honeybees are just starting their work. I can’t wait to taste some of the honey from my neighbor’s collection in the fall!

 

I just love that we’re both doing our part to help pollinate our little neighborhood.

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Female Bee

March is definitely like a lion!

It’s been such a cold, rainy March. Lots of fruit trees are in bloom, but the temperatures have been too chilly for my mason bees to emerge from their cocoons. I fear that they will run out of energy from the food they ate before making cocoons and will be too weak to emerge and find food.

Today, I did see a single, lonely male hanging out at the opening of the cocoon box. That’s a bit promising. Hopefully, he’ll be joined by others very soon, awaiting the emergence of the females.

Spring is Here!

I harvested almost 500 cocoons last fall and put them out mid-March, right before I left for Hawaii for two week. Today, most of them have hatched and are busy collecting pollen and laying eggs in the tubes. I hope I don’t run out of tubes! I love this time of year when everything is in bloom and watching my bees!

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That Time Of Year, Again

It’s the end of October and I’m just harvesting my mason bee cocoons. I usually do it the end of September, but I kept forgetting. After harvesting them, I see that the extra month was actually beneficial. I had a lower percentage of larvae that didn’t develop cocoons. I also noticed that out of the cocoons harvested from the wood blocks, about 1/3 didn’t develop, whereas the tubes with liners only had about 1% of undeveloped cocoons. So, next season, I’ll be putting liners in all the wood blocks to see if it makes a difference. In all, I harvested 484 cocoons. I didn’t see any evidence of parasites this time and no wasps. While the cocoons are drying from their mild bleach wash, I have the wood blocks soaking in a bleach solution after scrubbing them so they’ll be ready in the spring.

 

On another note, mom said that their peach tree did really well this year and she believes that her mason bees were the reason. She’s excited to see what happens this season with the cocoons she’s harvested.