Mason Bee Nest Care FALL/WINTER: October – January

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Mason bee cocoons in reed - copyright Fat Dog Farms

Anytime from October to January is a great time to harvest your mason bees and get them ready for spring. We will walk you through the process of “cleaning” your bees. If you want to make sure your colony has a viable chance, then you should take time for this simple process.
  • First, carefully separate the white nesting tubes from the brown guard tubes and make a pile of each. You will reuse the guard tubes each year, but dispose of the white nesting tubes after you unwrap them.
  • Carefully, unwrap each white nesting tube. You will want to do this over a table cloth or newspaper. Inside each tube you will discover 6-8 cocoons (and sometimes other fun creatures!), separated by a mud wall. Separate the cocoons.
  • When you have removed all of the cocoons, place them in a bowl and fill with cool water. Don’t let them sit too long! Gently swish them around to remove debris and any possible mites (fluffy yellow looking debris). Mud and other contaminants will sink in the bowl and the cocoons will float.
  • In a small colander, gently rinse the cocoons and spread them out on newspaper to dry. After an hour or so, move them to a cool location to continue to dry. A shed, garage, or basement is ideal.
  • Remember, don’t keep them inside a warm house too long (5 hours max)—they may hatch!
  • After the cocoons have dried you can now place them into a paper bag and store them until February or March in a cool shed, garage, or basement that is unheated.
By following this process, you should be able to significantly increase your mason bee population.

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