Opening up your tubes should be easy.
Each tube should have multiple cocoons in it, the females in back and males in front capped with a bit of mud at the end.
Don’t want the maintenance of a mason bee home? Typical ratio is 2:1 male to female. Bring your jar or container of cleaned cocoons inside from the yard or garage. Cleaning cocoons keeps parasite numbers low and prevents disease spread in the colony.
I cleaned the houses with soap and water and a good scrubbing.
It must be mason bee harvest time!
It works except that you can't clean it and the birds found a new food source, hence the wire. Just a different way of going about it than with the tubes, it still works just fine if you're not interested in cleaning it out. Do it, Alison !! Maybe this spring will be my time to just do it. Drill holes into one side of the bee house (but don’t drill all the way through). and start pollinating and making new mason bee babies right away. A big part of maintaining a bee house is keeping the cocoons safe when it’s not in use. Take your bee house down when your bees are not active. Use your sandpaper to smooth them out. To make sure that your bee house doesn’t blow away or get knocked around in the wind, place it against a straight, flat surface. Let’s make our cities healthier, sustainable and better places to live. Then I can re-drill the holes to give it a good cleaning. All that you really have to make an effort to do is cleaning out the bee house every once in a while. Keep these. Be sure to clear away any sawdust or residue. Anywhere that meets these conditions is good, be it along the wall of your house, or in a strong tree. This could deter future bees. If your garden doesn’t have natural clay soil, you can buy it from a garden center and leave it in a mound, or tray for the bees. They chew their way out of the cardboard box and find the tubes or holes (like magic!)
Add clean cocoons to a small paper box wrapped with paper towel. There are many places I could have gone to participate in a "cleaning/harvesting party" with other bee keepers and it probably would have been very helpful. You can wipe down your bee house, or sweep it out with a brush if you desire. Place the box inside a plastic yogurt container or glass jar — whatever will keep rodents and moisture out.
You may even see the entry hole. Go back to the tubes/tray you sorted. What did you wash your houses with?
Mason bee houses are manmade and are structured to be as comfortable and natural for mason (and other cavity-nesting bees) as possible. This will give them a good amount of sunlight and warmth in the mornings (in the northern hemisphere), but protect them from heat later on in the day. When you’re done, leave them on a towel or screen to dry. December through about March is the time to buy them. Don’t place it somewhere too dark though. Some didn't unravel, so I had to have some help with scissors as some of the tubes were pretty moldy. The best time to release them is in March or April. Consider adding parasitized cocoons to your bug hotel.). That's why I did this: I removed all the tubes. This is not the only way to build a mason bee house. Using a torch or headlight will make it easier to spot the old tubes from the capped ones. One infested cocoon can contain up to 60 developing wasps! Soak for five to 15 minutes, stir and then scoop them up with the sieve. Many of these will not be reused, they were pretty gross. The cocoons float and the debris falls to the bottom.
Use your hammer, and nails to fasten your board or metal as the roof. Restock your tubes if needed. Make sure that the sides and front have a sufficient overhang, otherwise your bee house will still get wet if it rains. Before you get to tidying, make sure that there aren’t new cocoons in old or abandoned tubes. This will be a recap of my very recent experience of "harvesting" mason bees (cleaning their cocoons, really) at Chickadee Gardens. Leave some clean, fresh water in a tray or container that the bees can easily access. If you have purchased a commercial bee house you probably won’t have much assembly to do.
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Non-parasitized mason bee cocoons will be firm to the touch and dark grey. You can do the same with water. Website by Briteweb, Check out 10 ways to see if your native bee home will help or harm bees, liquid oxygen bleach solution to kill bacteria and fungi.
Hi Kris…I see I replied in the wrong place…see below! This will also protect your bee house from some predators too. Yes, all I need are chickens now and I'll have the farm I always dreamed about... :) Love 'em both. If you do decide to host mason bees, whichever way you go (tubes with liners or a drilled block), it's up to you and fine.
I just washed the cocoons with cool water, I suppose you could use bleach although I am not sure about that…you might want to ask Crown Bees, they are a great information source.
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