March 20, 2011

Blue Orchard Bees

Cocoons on The Orchard Mason Bee by Brian Griffin
Within hours of being taken out of the 'fridge, some of the cocoons were wiggling. Remember Mexican Jumping Beans? The BOBs (aka Orchard Mason Bees) are still a little sleepy so not quite as wiggly as a jumping bean, but the males are definitely ready to emerge. You can hear little scratching noises, too.

The smaller cocoons are the males, and the larger ones are the females. All the cocoons have tiny pinkish mites on them. According to Brian Griffin, the man who industrialized Blue Orchard Bees, they are harmless to the bees. These mites are not the same as the mites that afflict the honeybee but, given our experience with varroa destructor, we're concerned.

Blue Orchard Bees sell out early in the year, and we purchased our cocoons in an uneducated panic. If we fail at propagating our own, next year we'll buy cocoons from a source that guarantees healthy, parasite-free cocoons, most likely masonbeesforsale.com.

Unsure of exactly when the pear and crab apples will bloom, we are staggering the BOBs release; half the cocoons are still hibernating in the 'fridge. The first group should start chewing their way out of their cocoons within a day or two, males first, and hopefully they'll find something they like to eat.

What's Blooming in the 'hood:
Silver Maples and Aspen trees
dandelions & henbit
crocus & winter aconite
daffodils & squill
hyacinth

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