Sunday, November 7, 2010

Proud "mama"

I may have mentioned this spring that we were playing hosts to some Mason Bees (a type that doesn't make honey), with a wooden box as their home.  The forty or so that I encouraged to hatch didn't all stay around (my mistake - didn't read the manual - oops!), but several did, and laid eggs.  What happens is that each egg gets it's own spot in a long, narrow tunnel in the box, and the mama bee makes a wax/mud wall in between to form a cell.  Each cell contains an egg and is surrounded by a bright yellow pollen bed to nourish the growing pupae.  This happens in late spring.  Come October-ish, the developing bees have formed cocoons around themselves and are ready to be "harvested".

This, below, is what I harvested today:


My very first batch of Mason Bees, all thirty of them. I opened up the wooden box (in layers) and carefully removed the cocoons from the tunnels, then cleaned the wooden layers and the cocoons.  Now that the cocoons are dry, I'll put them in a ventilated box with clean toilet paper and then into the fridge to keep them in the hibernation mode.  Come next March I'll bring them out and let the sun and warmth encourage them to hatch and make babies of their own.

I'm so proud!

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