Drying Cocoons

Fall Harvest

I just spent the past 2 1/2 hours harvesting about 2/3 of the cocoons from the nesting tubes, washing away the dirt and letting the cocoons sit in a bath of (weak) bleach water. I’m happy to report that I saw no parasites this year and no evidence of mites (it there had been mites, I would have seen orange or red spots on the paper towel where the cocoons are drying). Once the cocoons are dry, I will be putting them in the special humidifier box I bought from Crown Bees and storing them in the refrigerator until spring. I will finish harvesting the rest of the cocoons later this week.

Block & tubes

A partially filled block and a mesh bag of filled tubes.

Cocoons

A partially filled tray with viable cocoons that are separated by the hardened mud plugs.

Larvae

Some of the larvae never spun cocoons and were discarded.

Drying Cocoons

Washed cocoons drying on paper towels.

Nesting Trays

Unstacked nesting trays drying after being scrubbed and disinfected.

Still a little activity

I still have about a dozen bees working away and filling tubes. Since all the tubes were filled in the first bee house, I went ahead and placed them in a mesh bag so parasites can’t get to them. I also bought a new bee house for the nesting block (which is 75% filled). I’m going to have at least a 1,000 cocoons this year and will be giving at least half of them to Crown Bees. They will then place them in orchards in eastern Washington, helping the farmers with their fruit trees.

Winding Down?

It’s a bright, sunny morning and I went outside to check on my bees. I’m starting to find a few dead bees near the nests now. Their wings are tattered and it looks like they just went to sleep after laying their last egg. I know their life cycle is short, but I feel a bit sad since it won’t be long until I stop seeing my buzzing friends until next spring.

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.