Oops!

I thought my bees were done for the season, so I collected all the filled tubes from the houses and put them in a mesh bag. This is to prevent parasitic wasps and other pest from infiltrating the tubes.

I had no sooner sealed up the back when three of my gals came back to the bee house. They were confused since the unfilled tubes were not arranged the same way (since many filled tubes were missing, taking up less space) and buzzed around the openings, looking for their tube. I felt bad for them, but I’m confident they will figure it out or start a new tube.

I’d rather have a couple of confused bees than those nasty wasps in the tubes!

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More Cocoons

Yesterday, I received more cocoons from Crown Bee Supply. Not that I really needed them…but Dave needed to find homes for them and I wanted to help my neighbor, Jeanette.

Small bee house & tubesJeanette put up a small bee house a few weeks ago and I had given her an attractant cloth. But, she didn’t have any signs of bee activity. I’m hoping to change that, so I too my new cocoons over to her and we put the box near her bee house and tubes. One bee (probably a male) immediately crawled out of the box and fell to the ground. We couldn’t find him, but hoped he just needed a moment to recover from the hard work of nibbling out of the cocoon. I plan to pop over later this afternoon to see if the rest of the cocoons have emerged.

While the fruit trees have lost most of their blooms, Jeanette does have an apple tree with a few blooms left as well as all kinds of flowering plants near the bee house. I hope it’s enough.

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I just returned from Jeanette’s house. It looks like all the bees have emerged from the cocoons, but have flown off. We didn’t see any evidence of nesting. There’s a chance they migrated back to my nests, so I’m not too worried. I did suggest that maybe the nest be moved to a different location (and closer to mud) next year.

Will I Have Enough Nesting Tubes?

Another gorgeous day…and another morning of watching my bees at work. Once again, I laid on the porch just to watch my lovely ladies. Besides being fascinating to watch, there’s something peaceful and soothing about laying there as the buzz of their wings surround me on their way to the nesting tubes. Where once they stopped to check me out, they now ignore me and go about their business…I think they are quite used to me being a voyeur.

A bee backs into her tube to lay an egg.

A bee backs into her tube to lay an egg.

I noticed that just since yesterday, almost all the tubes in the bottom portion of the one house is filled. I’m also glad I put more tubes in the house roof and filled a coffee can with more…the girls are already making use of them. I have a feeling that I may need to get more tubes, knowing the bees still have about a month to go with their nesting ritual, before they die. I have another house coming in the mail…I just need to get more tubes.

Bee House and Nesting Block

March 4th

May 4th

May 14th

Observation

I have a light work schedule today, so I went out the front porch and laid down to watch my mason bee gals at work. I could have stayed there all day, they’re so fascinating to watch! They pretty much ignored me and kept working. Some would fly into a tube, put down bee bread, thenĀ emerge from the tube, only to back in to lay an egg. I captured much of the action on these videos.

Proud Mom!

Yes, I feel like a proud mom! All but about 40 of my harvested cocoons hatched! Watching them first mate, then start laying eggs in the tubes has been so rewarding.

But let me back up a smidge…last fall, my Asian pear trees had produced more fruit than the previous year. Not only that, but the one variety that was typically bland tasting was the sweetest of the three trees! I really believe my bees contributed to a good fruit yield.

I added a nesting block from Crown Bees this year…and the girls have been so busy, I had to just order more tubes and reeds to accommodate them! I just have to find something to put them in (I think my husband needs to make a box for me this weekend).

I also got my neighbor to join in on the fun. She just bought a bee house and tubes, so I gave her a bee attractant cloth…maybe some of my gals will migrate over to her bee home. Crown Bees still has cocoons that need homes, so I ordered more of those, too. I plan to give some to my neighbor to really get her started. The fruit trees have pretty much dropped their blooms, but there are still plenty of flowers (lilac, roses, and others) around for them to continue making bee bread for their brood.

By the looks of things, I think I’ll have twice as many cocoons at last year. I plan to give the extras to Crown Bee (in exchange for nesting materials, maybe).

In preparation for after the bees are done laying eggs, I purchased a net sack to keep out parasites, etc. I also purchased a humidifier for the fridge, that will make it easier to store my cocoons.