As you may have gleaned, things have been rather busy recently chez Duver Diary and it was mid November before I suddenly realised I hadn’t returned my Mason Bee tubes. Thankfully it’s been mild here so I thought it was still worth doing.
I pulled out all the tubes and, as instructed, where no ‘cap’ was visible I held them up to the light to see if the tube was blocked (because apparently tubes can be occupied even if not capped) and sure enough there were a number which were blocked.
Happily, whereas in my last post in September I thought I had seven capped and therefore occupied tubes, when I actually investigated them all, there were fourteen!
As explained last time, some of the tubes appear to have been capped by leaves not mud – see below – and these are occupied by leaf cutter bee coccoons. Mason Bees UK don’t want these returned, so I’m following their instructions to look after these at home.
I’ve now sent all the mud capped tubes off in a Jiffy bag and am looking forward to receiving another set of Red Mason Bee cocoons in the spring.
With thanks to Mason Bees UK for making it all so easy.
I recently received an Autumn Newsletter from Mason Bees UK, the suppliers of my Red Mason Bee cocoons earlier in the year.
It’s apparently now time to bring the nesting tubes inside to check if they are occupied. The ones with mud caps (two of mine above) are likely to be occupied with Red Mason Bee cocoons. However, there might also be cocoons in uncapped tubes, so we’ve been invited to remove the tubes from the the holder and hold the them up to the light to see if there is anything inside.
If the tube is occupied, the inside tube should be removed from the outer either by hand or needle nosed pliers. Once removed they should be returned to Mason Bees UK for safekeeping over the winter. New cocoons will be sent out in the spring.
So, that’s two occupied tubes taken care of, what of the other five which are capped but look different? Apparently these are likely to be inhabited by Leafcutter Bee cocoons and the newsletter explained how I can look after these at home. Knowing these were likely to be leafcutters I looked at nearby leaves and, sure enough, some exhibited the neat circular holes that leafcutters make.
Interestingly the newsletter shared evidence that ‘second hand’ outer tubes (ie reused for a second year) seem to attract nesting bees more readily than brand new tubes which is thought might be due to a pheromone effect, so hopefully next year I might have even more success.
What a buzz 😉
I’ve blogged here and here about this year’s new foray into keeping red mason bees.
After a rather shaky start with an inadvertent toasting of the cocoons by the Aga, I was glad to see that some of the nesting tubes have been ‘capped’ suggesting that new cocoons have been laid in there.
On Saturday, witnessed by my Book Club ladies, I did see a bee coming and going from one of the uncapped tubes, but of course when I returned to photograph it it got camera shy and disappeared. I certainly haven’t been aware of, or troubled by any extra bees this year and did wonder whether none had actually survived, but they clearly have and I’m chuffed to bits to have a count of five capped tubes.
The tubes will be returned to Mason Bees UK in September and in return they will send out new cocoons next spring.
I’ll keep you posted of the final count, but in the meantime I’ll look forward to a bumper veg harvest thanks to my friendly little pollinators.