5. How to Raise Summer Leafcutter Bees
5.6 Early Spring: Harvest Bee Cocoons
5.6 Early Spring: Harvest Leafcutter Bee 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.
Reasons to harvest summer leafcutter bee cocoons:
- Pteromalus, the sneaky gnat-sized parasitic wasp that lays eggs inside of developing leafcutter bee larvae.
- Chalkbrood, a deadly fungal infection that is spread and picked up on flowers.
Left unchecked, these parasites and disease can kill your bee house population and these threats to leafcutter bees naturally exist in your garden. Chalkbrood is spread when healthy bees must walk through an unopened and infected nesting chamber. To minimize these problems, harvest your leafcutter bee cocoons in the spring and provide fresh and clean nesting holes each season.
Harvesting leafcutter bee cocoons is easy, quick, and allows you to:
- Ensure the health of your leafcutter bee cocoons.
- Take inventory of your leafcutter bee population.
- Plan ahead for summer pollination.
- Share extra leafcutter bee cocoons with local friends and neighbors.
You will harvest your leafcutter bee cocoons in the early spring. If you are also raising spring mason bees, a good time to harvest leafcutter cocoons is around the time that you are starting to release mason bee cocoons. For full instructions go to Harvest Summer Leafcutter Bee Cocoons.