LEARN: 4. How to Raise Spring Mason Bees


4.6 Fall: Harvest & Store Cocoons

4.6 Fall: Harvest & Store Cocoons

Harvesting cocoons is the best way to ensure bee health because it prevents the spread of disease and reduces pest populations.

In the wild, naturally occurring nesting holes are spread across the landscape. Unfortunately, man-made nesting holes are close together and it's easy for pests and diseases to spread. Open your nesting holes to harvest cocoons and provide fresh nesting holes each season.

Top reasons to harvest spring mason bee cocoons:

  1. Monodontomerus, also known as mono, the gnat-sized parasitic wasp that lays eggs inside of developing mason bee larvae.
  2. Chalkbrood, a deadly fungal infection that is picked up on flowers.
  3. Pollen mites, microscopic mites that eat the pollen loaf, starving and killing the bee larva.
  4. Small beetles that enter while the nest is built, eating pollen and bees.

Left unchecked, these parasites and disease can kill your bee house population. All of these threats to mason bees naturally exist in your garden. Chalkbrood and pollen mites are spread when healthy bees must walk through an unopened and infected nesting chamber. To minimize these problems, harvest your mason bee cocoons in the fall and provide fresh and clean nesting holes each season.

Harvesting mason bee cocoons is easy, quick, and allows you to:

  • Ensure the health of your mason bee cocoons.
  • Take inventory of your mason bee population.
  • Share extra mason bee cocoons with local friends and neighbors.
  • Participate in Crown Bees nationwide BeeBuyBack program.

You should harvest your mason bee cocoons in the fall, between October and November. For full instructions go to Harvest Spring Mason Bee Cocoons.

Winter Mason Bee Cocoon Storage

Mason bee cocoons are waterproof and can be washed and stored over the winter in your fridge. The consistent cold temperatures of your fridge help the mason bees conserve their fat stores over the winter. To prevent dehydration of mason bee cocoons, Crown Bees has developed the HumidiBee cocoon humidifier that retains moisture in today’s frost-free refrigerators.

Add about a tablespoon of water once a month to your filled HumidiBee container and wash cocoons as needed. Detailed instructions are on the Harvest Mason Bee Cocoons page.

  • Sign up for BeeMail to receive monthly reminders to care for your hibernating bees.
  • Using a secondary fridge? Open the fridge to give the hibernating bees some fresh air.

Pro Tip: To extend the life of your bee house, uninstall and store in your shed or garage over the fall and winter.

Topic Completion

How to Raise Mason Bees

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