Caring for your Cocoons until you put them out
On your trip home, keep the cocoons cool. DO NOT put by a heater vent and keep your car interior cool. IF you have a trip longer than 30 minutes, put the cocoons in a cooler or devise a way to keep them cool. Be aware that subjecting them to extreme temperature fluctuations can cause them to start to emerge before you are ready to put them outside. Cold storage helps increase survival of the bees that emerge in the spring. Even though the bees in the cocoons are dormant, they are alive, and respiring, which uses energy. The cold storage helps the dormant bees use their stored energy at a slower rate than those over-wintering at higher temperatures.
Keeping cocoons cold before putting them out
Keep the cocoons in a refrigerator (vegetable bin- a “moist zone”) at 38-39° F and 60-70% humidity to ensure the bees remain dormant. Place a dry paper towel in a container and put the cocoons on the dry paper towel. Put a smaller container with a damp paper towel (not dripping wet) in the larger container (holes in the lid). This adds extra moisture. Check the paper towel weekly and moisten as necessary. IF the cocoons develop surface mold, wash, rinse and air dry them before returning them to the refrigerator. Only use 1 tsp to 1 gallon of water for one minute. (half the strength and time used in the initial cleaning). Dry the cocoons (do not use a hair dryer) and return the cocoons to the refrigerator until you put them out.
Putting out Cocoons. Watch the 7-10 day weather forecast. You are looking for temps of 50-55° for 3 or more days in a row with no heavy rain in the forecast to decide when to put our cocoons. Put out 1/3 or 1/2 of your cocoons in late March- mid April and the rest 1-2 weeks later. All cocoons should be out by the very first week of April.
Final steps during the year:
June 1st- Take your blocks and/or tubes and put them in a paper sack or box. Close the bag or box and store it in your garage or a shed until you harvest the cocoons in mid Oct- early Nov
Take a cocoon cleaning class in mid Oct –early Nov. Registration for those classes will open in September for these classes. Register at www.LinnMasterGardeners.com
Use the OSU Extension publication “Nurturing Mason Bees in Your Backyard in Western Oregon” EM9130 (page 5 for cleaning info) for a review and information about Mason Bees.
Contact Rich Little at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or Ranee Webb at: RaneeWebb66@gmail.com 2-1-18
These posts are from Master Gardeners, as well as speakers we have had at various events concerning pollinators.