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How to Harvest Mason Bees

comments (0) July 17th, 2012 in blogs
Ann_Stratton Ann Stratton, Assistant editor, Fine Gardening
7 users recommend

Video Length: 7:50
Produced by: David Hunter


The word is out that orchard mason bees (Osmia lignaria) are amazing pollinators, and a lot of garden centers and catalogs have started selling mason bee nesting houses. You'll find a wide range of bee houses on the market but one thing that the best designs all have in common is that they allow easy access to the cocoons of the overwintering bees.

Many gardeners don't realize that mason bee houses need upkeep once a year. You can't just prop up a bee house in your garden, leave it untouched for years, and expect healthy mason bees to crawl out each spring. Used holes contain pests, such as pollen mites. If your bee house design uses reeds or paper tubes for nesting holes, the used ones should be tossed out and replaced; and if you use wood trays as a bee house, each tray needs to be brushed clean. But providing clean nesting holes every spring is just one part of being a good beekeeper. The other part involves "harvesting" the cocoons in fall. In the September/October issue of Fine Gardening (#147), David Hunter, owner of Crown Bees in Woodinville, Washington, walks us through this simple process, from removing the cocoons from their nesting holes and placing them in a container with air holes to storing them in a safe, unheated space through winter and releasing them at just the right time in spring.

In this video, David demonstrates how to "harvest" the cocoons of overwintering bees from wood trays, specially designed for nesting mason bees. For more videos on raising orchard mason bees, visit the Crown Bees YouTube channel.



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