Pollination with Mason Bees
Rosina T. Schmidt
Mason bees use mud or similar “masonry” products in constructing their nest, and no wonder they are known under that name besides being called “orchard bees” as they are good pollinators in the orchard.
Mason Bees schedule for their care:
Prepare the nests (mason bee houses)
Set the nests outside, but refrigerate the cocoons until they need to be released, depending on plants to be pollinated.
When you see the first dandelion blooming set some of the cocoons outside for release.
Depending on blossom presence add additional nests. If you use the nests with tubes, remove the tubes that bees have already sealed and replace them with fresh tubes. Store the sealed tubes in a metal container with air holes, so no mice, etc. have access to them.
Protect from rain. Keep harvesting sealed tubes.
To protect nests from predators use chicken wire. Keep harvesting sealed tubes, and replace with fresh tubes. Orchard bees are usually active for about six weeks only.
Protect from parasitic wasps using netting. Or store the nests in the garage, by making sure that all the sealed tubes are stored in a metal container with air holes.
If the nests are still outside, protect them from extreme heat.
Protect nests from rain if they are still outdoors.
Collect nests. Harvest the cocoons. Clean the nest. Store the cocoons.
Check cocoons for mold and predation.
In extreme cold temperature it is best to take the last nests inside if not done so before.
Other types of pollinators, as listed by the Pollination Ecology Lab at SFU: