Mason Bee Keeping


How many cacoons did you put out this spring? I’ve heard that you can double or triple the amount of bees you have each year. I bought 40 bees so if I could get a hundred cacoons for next year I’d be thrilled.


Oh yes, easily. In fact, they can get to be more than you can house.

I had about loose 100 cocoons and maybe 50 tubes that I didn’t open.


I agree with Lois.The first year there were about a dozen and over 100 were formed.
So,if things go accordingly with yours,that could be 300-400. Brady


Wow. That would be quite impressive.

I’ve read that many people take their houses down when the bee activity stops and store it in a safe place away from wasps and other predators and then harvest the cocoons in late fall or winter. When is the best month to harvest the cocoons? I’ve heard people say do it around leaf fall and that should give the pupas plenty of time to form the cocoons.


Yes,in the Fall,before the freezing weather comes. Brady


My problem has been keeping the cocoons from hatching early in the fridge

They need humidity in there


Couldn’t you just cover the cocoons outside with window screen and remove it in the late winter/early spring?


Have you seen this product? It could be home made if you like. My mason bees are in one right now, I checked my bees and they seem to still be fine.Bee humidity coolder


The cocoons can freeze at temperatures below 25F. Brady


I bought my bees from brushy mountain bee farm and they shipped them to me in a cold insulated container that has a damp sponge type of device on the bottom but is covered with a plastic mesh that keeps the cardboard box from ever coming in contact with water. So the effect is sort of a humidity chamber. Pretty simple yet slick


Hmm… now I am thoroughly confused. My assumption is that the bee(s) in the pictures I posted is a native mason bee. The only way they could survive here is to nest in structures or the ground. Is that right?

So there are no set-it-and-forget-it mason bee colonies?


Since it gets down to -20F around here, one would think the bees must be able to survive those temps. And I used to leave them outside, and they’d hatch in the spring.


That’s interesting.There are a number of sources on the internet that indicate,they do need several months of cold,but too low a temperature can be bad for them.
I might experiment and put a few in a freezer next Winter and see what happens.
Were yours left out in the open or in some kind of block or container? Brady


When I left them outside, they were in tubes in a cannister

The bees seem to prefer the tubes to the blocks, but I had too many losses from squirrels, etc, so I bring them inside now


I’ve not seen any activity on mine for at least a week. And the weather has been nice. Wondering if mine are all finished and if they’ve died off. It’s been about 5.5 weeks since I set them out if I remember correctly.


Providing shelter to native solitary bees is good, and they pollinate flowers also.


These bees aren’t territorial, everyone is welcome to a hole. I have two species, mason and hornfaced bees, and they share the nesting sites with no hostility.

Different species do prefer different size holes, but they seem to be flexible - the mason bees are larger than the hornfaced, but they prefer the same holes.


I can’t believe that no female orchardists jumped in on this one. My wife would have said, “Just like humans.”


Missed that reply


Anyone still seeing Mason Bee activity? It’s been about 3 weeks for me now since I’ve seen anything. I’m afraid I didn’t get as many cacoons as I had hoped. I guess I should take the house down and store in in my basement away from any type of predators. Then harvest the cocoons this fall. I’m kind of disappointed in how it turned out. Maybe I put them out too early.