Releasing, or setting out, spring mason bee cocoons is easy and there are a few guidelines that you should follow to keep the bees happy and healthy.

 

Remember that mason bees need morning sun, open blooms, and nearby clayey mud to nest!

 

 

 

Mason Bees For Sale

• Spring mason bees need a minimum daytime temperature of about 55F/13C (don’t worry about nighttime temperatures) and they need open blooms to feed.

• Chewing out of cocoons takes time. You should allow for this time in your planning for cocoon release. Fluctuations in weather can slow the bees’ emergence from their cocoons and it can take up to two weeks (or longer) for the bees to emerge.

• Ensure a ready and open source of pollen. Look to your fruit trees for the bloom stage known as ‘popcorn’ and dandelions are a good food source while fruit blooms are opening. Set your mason bee cocoons out ahead of the peak bloom.

 

 

For first-time mason bee raisers:

Simply set the small cardboard box with the lid open into your bee house. Place the small cocoon box on top of and towards the back of your nesting holes.

For seasoned mason bee raisers:

When releasing last year’s cocoons, we recommend staggering the release of your cocoons.

• Split your cocoon population into groups of 1/2 or 1/3, making sure to have a mix of small (male bees) and large (female bees) cocoons in each group. Female bees must mate before they can start nesting.

• Set a group of cocoons into the bee house in a small paper cup or other open container and wait a week or two before setting another group out.

• Staggering cocoon release is a good strategy when you have more than one type of fruit tree that you want to pollinate. 

Always make sure to keep mason bee cocoons out of direct sunlight.

Setting cocoons on top of and towards the back of the nesting holes keeps them protected from sunlight and it helps the bees get to know their new home.

Pro Tip:

It’s best to set cocoons out in the morning or early evening. In the morning gives the bees more time to warm up, emerge and fly. In the evening the bees will get a good night’s rest and will be ready to go the next day.

After you release cocoons, relax and try to remember to be patient as you watch for mason bee activity at the house. Female mason bees need to emerge, mate, get to know the area to find pollen and mud, and return to the bee house. Mason bees start building their nests at the back of the nesting hole and it is very hard to see that far into their nesting hole. If you must, you can shine a flashlight into the bee house to look for shiny mason bee bums or faces in their nesting holes.

Good luck and have fun raising mason bees this spring!