Harvesting Mason Bee cocoons

in #bees3 years ago (edited)

In the early Spring female solitary Bees were busy building homes for their offspring. I took some Bamboo I had sitting around and cut them into big and small pieces.

The Mason Bees laid their larvae and left pollen pellets inside and sealed up the tubes. These bees will leave up to thirty larva in a Bamboo tube sometimes.

It would seem the Bees ran out of space in the tubes by late spring. And started building homes on the inside of the big bamboo tubes. I was not expecting that. The yellow stuff is pollen and the grey stuff is mud placed there by the Bees.

The cells the Mason Bees build with mud are quite impressive. And I am amazed how much pollen they add to each cell. They do this to feed the larva that will eventually spin itself into a cocoon.

The Bees packed mud in so well I had to cut open the big Bamboo tubes just to get to the smaller ones. Those bean like things are cocoons with a single Bee in each. The larva spun them and now they are waiting for a streak of warm days to emerge.

Before breaking open the tubes they look like the above.

Once cracked open I can get to the smaller reeds the Bees lay their larva in.

Once open I then cut the little Bamboo reeds open and collect the cocoons.

The Bees even laid larva in the back of the Bamboo reeds.. hah any space they found they filled.

Breaking them open is alot of work and not a very clean way of handling them. So my Bee boards should make this alot easier next harvest.

The Bamboo reeds are disposed of after looking like burst open shells to me.

I usually try to dump the cocoons on a piece of paper and then collect them and drop them into a container for cleaning afterwards.

Sometimes pests get to the coons before I can clean them out, the half empty shells are a sign of trouble. Luckily most of the cocoons found were okay.

Sometimes its Mites, other times its Gnat sized Wasps. But seems there are things that go after the Bees out there. Maybe next year I should harvest earlier and not in January like I did this year.

Over a few hours I collect close to a hundred and only processed about a third of what I have so far. Looks like I'll have alot of Bees that will emerge in the Spring. Hope my care for them will be good enough.

I wash them and dry them once collected, will detail that in a future post.

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That's alot of work to collect cocoons and hence baby bees? don't understand why you'd need to do that? wouldnt they just hatch from the bamboo anyways? so you can just put the bamboo near your hive?

you should use the #talentclub tag too !

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I could just leave them alone and let them emerge naturally. But the Bees will have to crawl through Mite infested cells before emerging. Clinging on the Bees when they have Mites it effects them badly. So by me opening up the Bamboo tubes and removing them from the Mites I can make sure it's less of an issue.

Yes I would put them by their future homes when they emerge. The Bee boards I'm building should be suitable for this Spring. And cleaning them is much easier than the Bamboo homes I had to deal with. They are solitary Bees so they dont have colony hives. They all work independently.

Thanks alot for the comment and tokens.

Oh okay I'll look into the #talentclub tag.

whats the goal for the solitary bees? do they collect honey? I suppose they are good pollinator ? So you must have lots of flowers around your area?

what if you use paper straws instead of bamboo.. wont that be easier to harvest?

They do not make honey but they do collect alot of pollen. If I can successfully collect some of that pollen then its good for eating and dealing with seasonal allergies. Otherwise they make excellent pollinators so its good for all the plants within 100 yards that they travel to.

Yeah alot of people do the straw method, but I have built bee boards for next season. So it should be alot easier next time around for sure.

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Glad you liked them, yeah I agree we should have more insect biology posts on Steem. I'll post some more soon.

Wow, that is a lot of work. Best of luck with rearing the little bees.

Took me about two hours just to do a third of them. But with my Bee Boards it should cut down on my harvesting time drastically. If they work well in the Spring I plan on selling them on Steem Homesteaders Co op.

Thanks alot

What a great idea. Best of luck to you. I always wanted a bee colony but perhaps at this stage of my life, it is better to enjoy how others do it.

An intriguing process. Great photo essay too.

Ah thanks much, glad you like it.

Dang! At first I kept thinking wtf, why is this guy taking apart bee nests... but in the end we see why: Looks like I'll have alot of Bees that will emerge in the Spring. Hope my care for them will be good enough. Phew!

Twenty years ago I used to see lots of mason bees here in the Midwest. Now I almost never see any. And I've never come across a nest. Bald hornets, mud wasps, yes, they're all over, and watch your step or you might walk into those underground yellow-jacket nests. Where are the honey bees, bumblebees and mason bees hiding their homes? I wouldn't harvest honey, but I'd do what I can to safeguard their habitats.
Thanks for an awesome post, @solominer!

Hah yeah not smart to rip apart a honey bee hive, at least without the right protection. Hmm that sucks, hope they come back to the Midwest. Maybe there are no good homes for them near by.

Yeah dont step on those yellow jacket nests, I hate those things!

thanks alot!

That is an Awesome Work You are doing!!!

Ah much appreciated...

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I am surprised. I have not really seen it before.

Yeah most people dont know about Mason bees, they are pretty cool though.

Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

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