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Do I need to empty the cocoons or will they naturally come out?

 
Cassie Langstraat
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I have two questions. I recently watched this little micro documentary on mason bees and I kind of got confused. Do we need to take the cocoons out of the tubes? Or do they just come out naturally? The lady in the video said you don't HAVE to, but she acted like it was quite important so I am just curious.

Also, how do you go about cleaning out the tubes if you do proceed to clean them out yourself?
 
Steven Feil
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What system are you using? Is it paper tubes or is it the tubes molded into wood blocks?
 
Cassie Langstraat
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I don't have a system yet. I was just curious after watching the video. Which is better?
 
Steven Feil
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I have only tried the block thing purchased from www.crownbees.com. My first year at that. I need to review when to pull the cocoons.

I guess the short answer to your question is: Yes, the cocoons should be pulled so you can inspect for disease and pest damage. I think the only one that you can't do that is when you have a solid block that is drilled and don't use inserts for the nesting.
 
allen lumley
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Late Note I have been called out for some inaccuracies in my reporting below, please see My up-date further down ! Sorry, sorry, sorry ! Big AL

Cassie Langstraat : Most Everything I know about mason bees I learned here at Permies, but I'll take a swing, because the female will come back to the same tube
or tube set nearly 20 times You end up with possibility that the last few eggs she lays at the end of her season may not be her best work, a stillborn mason bee
will block the tube for the other mason bees further down in the Mason Bee Nesting Block.

Also, if late in the season 'she' is found by and colonized by Bee Mites they will get carried back to the nesting block and feed on the developing Bee Larva -
Contaminated Mason Bee Nesting blocks should 'bee' isolated and cleaned or destroyed! The tubes that are placed inside the Nesting Blocks can
'bee' as simple as a paper drinking straw snipped to length !

A research trick I now use (Thanks Jay C. White Cloud ) is to do an image search for a subject- '' Mason Bee Nesting Blocks images " , find an image someone
selected to make a point and click on that picture, on the new page another click gets you to the Original Posters Forum / Blog Thread

This is a good place to point out that many of the nesting blocks have been split down through each line of holes to facilitate taking them apart for inspection and
cleaning

Being both lazy and cautious, I pop the blocks in a large zip lock back and throw them in the deep freeze in a marked bag, and when my wife or I next get into the
freezer, at least 48 hours later, we remove the nesting blocks 'till next year' hopefully this added step will cut down on Bee Mite infestation !

Using the image search as a second fast and parallel search engine has been Very Effective for me, and found me the blog www Blueberrytalk.wordpress.com

for the Good of the Crafts ! Big AL
 
Steven Feil
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allen lumley wrote: the female will come back to the same tube or tube set nearly 20 times


That would be 20 times PER EGG CELL

allen lumley wrote:You end up with possibility that the last few eggs she lays at the end of her season may not be her best work, a stillborn mason bee
will block the tube for the other mason bees further down in the Mason Bee Nesting Block.


The first part is true, but not the last. The mason bees will just chew through any dead cocoons on its way out of the tube.

allen lumley wrote:Also, if late in the season 'she' is found by and colonized by Bee Mites they will get carried back to the nesting block and feed on the developing Bee Larva


I do not believe this is true. Mites are a problem, but I do not ever recall reading that they "feed on the bee"

allen lumley wrote:Contaminated Mason Bee Nesting blocks should 'bee' isolated and cleaned or destroyed! The tubes that are placed inside the Nesting Blocks can
'bee' as simple as a paper drinking straw snipped to length !

This is a good place to point out that many of the nesting blocks have been split down through each line of holes to facilitate taking them apart for inspection and
cleaning


I HIGHLY recommend the split block system versus the solid block one. As noted, if you do use the solid block, please get paper tube inserts for it.

allen lumley wrote:Being both lazy and cautious, I pop the blocks in a large zip lock back and throw them in the deep freeze in a marked bag, and when my wife or I next get into the
freezer, at least 48 hours later, we remove the nesting blocks 'till next year' hopefully this added step will cut down on Bee Mite infestation !


Not sure this would work. Mites survive in the wild through freezing Winters. I don't have any other suggestions though.
 
allen lumley
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Steven Feil :You are correct to call me out for poor reporting, something I bitch about a lot

Yes, it takes about 20 trips to gather enough pollen/nectar to provide enough nourishment for each individual egg/egg cell !
With 130+ kinds of mason bees there is a wide range in number of eggs laid, and number of egg cells per tube, some experts say 15-20 eggs per female,
somesay 30-35, and six-ish egg cells per tube, if deep enough ! 20 was off the top of my head and lazy reporting !

Knock on wood, we seem to be in a mite free zone Here ! It is possible that a parasitic wasp may have been the reason that whole tubes did not fully mature/
emerge, it has been reported that these cocoons will feel squishy ? It is possible I simply missed that clue, I will check ! Or they may have all been naturally
stillborn, when that happens its, a good thing because they do not past on their DNA, Again I am just reporting what I have seen ! It is just as possible to be
wrong with a general statement as a specific statement !

Again, my 'luck' in being mite free allowed me to generalize and be wrong, the mites merely get carried back to the Egg cells where apparently they eat up the
pollen and nectar, starving the bee larva, the parasitic wasp is the one who adds her eggs to a Mason Bees Cocoon and those eggs hatch first !

I expect that the mites natural cycle is to hibernate inside the nesting block over the winter With the surviving Mason Bees which would provide minimum shelter
-but there is none in a Disassembled nesting block in a deep freeze at -20dF

Paul W. has a Blog post at www.makeitmissoula.com/blogs/ and has a recent blog on Mason bees posted there ! Another good source for information supplies and
Mason Bees in cocoon Is Crownbees.com I Believe that many of the other suppliers are getting their suppies at Crownbees !

Again let me apologize for my mis-directions As always, comments observations and questions are solicited and Welcome, for the Good of the Crafts ! Big Al
 
Cassie Langstraat
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Thank you to you both! I think I will definitely go with some sort of tubes and then cut them down the middle so I can remove them and clean them out when need be. And when exactly is that again? When can I tell is the right time to clean it?
 
Steven Feil
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Go to crown bees and read/view their tutorials.

Also, I think it will be much easier to buy the split blocks from there. They make them a special way to keep the holes from becoming oval.
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