Blueberrytalk's Weblog

Everything connected to growing blueberries

Archive for the ‘cocoons’ Category

Nests for leafcutter bees

Posted by blueberrytalk on December 5, 2010

Elderberry nests for Leafcutters

Plants that have a soft pith in their stems provide a natural nest site for Leafcutter bees. We have helped the bees by drilling out the soft pith of Elderberry branches. The Elderberry nests will be set out in a box where cocoons will be released this spring. We hope to gather more cocoons for next year. Some Leafcutter bees already make cocoons in the nests we place out for Mason bees.

Posted in cocoons, Leaf cutter bees | Leave a Comment »

Incubating leafcutter bee cocoons

Posted by blueberrytalk on December 5, 2010

Leafcutter bees have been increasing in our farming area. The problem is that a lot of their lifespan follows the blueberry pollination season. Incubating leafcutter coccons is a big business in Alberta where the leafcutter’s lifespan is timed with the alfalfa pollination.  They have been used in New Brunswick on lowbush blueberries.

We hope to give the cocoons in the box below a warmer environment in the spring to produce bees earlier in the season. The cocoons outside the box are the control group to find out the natural time for leafcutter bees to emerge from their cocoons.

leafcutter bee cocoons

UPDATE: On April 1 the cocoons in the box were brought in the house for incubation. On May 3 the first male emerged. He was able to squeeze through the wire!

Posted in cocoons, Leaf cutter bees | Leave a Comment »

Counting Mason bee cocoons

Posted by blueberrytalk on November 15, 2010

We counted 2000 Mason bee cocoons and placed them in four storage boxes. Each box has a space of 54 square inches or about one square inch for 10 cocoons. From the picture we know what 500 cocoons looks like. In the future we will use the boxes to estimate 500 cocoons. Forget the counting!

Mason bee cocoons

Posted in cocoons, Mason bee cocoons | Leave a Comment »

Mason bee cocoons – 2010

Posted by blueberrytalk on November 5, 2010

cocoons in bamboo tubes

Bamboo tubes have been split to extract and clean the cocoons. Notice how the cocoon size varies with the size of the tube. One cell has been destroyed by pollen mites.

Posted in cocoons, Mason bee cocoons | Leave a Comment »

Cleaning Mason bees cocoons 2009

Posted by blueberrytalk on October 29, 2009

Getting rid of pollen mites is a good way help your Mason bee population grow. The cocoons in the picture are drying after being washed  and dipped in a mild beach solution. They will be kept in a secure container to protect them from mice.

mason bee cocoons 09 002

Mason bee cocoons

 Candling the Mason bee cocoons shows which cocoons are not viable. Most of the cocoons in the batch above show a Mason bee inside in a fetal position. See other posts on Mason bees.

Copy of candeling 001

Candling cocoons

Posted in cocoons, Mason bee cocoons | 2 Comments »

Cleaning mason bee cocoons

Posted by blueberrytalk on December 2, 2008

Ayden (nine years old) has done a good job of cleaning the mason bee cocoons. The main thing is to get rid of all the pollen mites. We need to know how many cocoons we have but before counting we had everyone guess how many cocoons we had collected. All the guesses were too low but Tobia was closest with her guess of 600. The actual count was 770. We need to know the number of cocoons so we can put out the right number of nests next spring. Also we need to compare the number of cocoons with the results of pollination next summer. There are 1100 Bluecrop blueberry plants within 600 feet of the Mason bee nests and that is our target for improved pollination.

cleaned cocoons

cleaned cocoons

how many cocooons?

how many cocoons?

It’s always hard to get good pollination with the Bluecrop variety. The result is a lot of small immature fruit as illustrated in the following picture.

poor pollination

poor pollination

 The video advertised in the following link gives complete details on cleaning cocoons:

Posted in cocoons, Mason bee cocoons | 1 Comment »