Yesterday I finally cleaned up my lovely Mason Bee Cocoons! I’d bought my little MB condo and about 16 cocoons at the North Saanich Market 2 years ago.
Last year was my first session of cleaning the cocoons for winter and my pal D and I sat out in the sunshine doing this! We opened up the channels of the MB house, cleaned up the cocoons and put them away in a container for the winter.
The cocoons stayed put, in their clear container (from the Crown Bee website) until March when I put the cocoons into the top tray of the Mason Bee house, and set them in a sunny area of the yard.
Oh the magic of seeing them hatch and fly away. The industriousness of the 2 females (one of the three females didn’t survive) who worked steadfastly through the warm summer months to lay eggs, leave pollen .. making many trips to do so, seal the space with clay and repeat this many times.
I was so excited .. how many cocoons would I get this year? Well as it turns out … yesterday when went through the cleaning process .. I counted 57!!!! Yes!! 57 from 2 females from a total of only 16 cocoons that survived. Happy am I??? YES!
So here is my little Mason Bee Condo .. see .. there are 8 channels filled:
Here is the top layer, only one channel and you can see where a few eggs didn’t mature into cocoons, for whatever reason I don’t know .. and I didn’t take photos of the other trays but they had missing sections also. Nature’s way? I need to research what could have gone wrong. There seems to be a fair bit of pollen and, I’m guessing – mites in the empty sections so this must have been the reason.
After 3 rinses in clear, cold water .. the cocoons are floating on the clean water. This is a good thing, only cocoons which are alive float so I was very relieved to see this!
I patted the cocoons dry on the paper towels and then put them all into the clear container (seen in the first photo) and now they are in the crisper in the fridge until spring. Oh this is so exciting.
I’ve been paying attention to pesticides and bees and have read that neonicotinoids (pesticide) have been the cause of bee deaths. And I’ve read that some Ontario beekeepers have launched a lawsuit over this pesticide:
The chemical companies know full well the outcome of the pesticides which are not needed anyway. Healthy organic farming practices negate the need of any chemicals.
I was so distraught when I finally bought some annuals (I normally don’t buy these) in the spring. Feeling decadent and seeing these pretty flowers at two shops .. I decided to buy quite a number of flats. Once planted .. I read about the chemical. With a feeling of dread, I contacted the two shops and asked them to check with the growers to see if this chemical was used and I was assured that it wasn’t. However, I do wonder if the seeds had been treated .. how would I know? The flowers themselves look so pretty .. and I’ve watered them with EM (effective microorganisms) and this is why they are still flowering like this (plus the sunny October weather)!
So perhaps I’m over-worrying .. but I want good plants in good soil. The neonicotinoid pesticide lives on in the soil and when the bees visit the flowers, they are poisoned. Oh I hope I can trust the growers who supplied the shops where I bought the plants.
Well .. next year I plan to start my own annual flower seedlings .. I have purchased quite a few packets of organic flower seeds and so I will know for sure, without any doubt, that the beautiful flowers will be safe for the bees.
Recently I’ve been discovering the magic of my new (Panasonic 30 x zoom) camera and taking photos of the moon … here is a shot from last night .. the moon seems like a close neighbour .. not as far away as I’d thought! And we are going to be treated to a most wonderful red moon (I think) on Wednesday morning!!
This tiny little squash is growing away in one of my containers .. thanks to EM and the warmth of the sun. I wonder how big it will get to be? There are quite a number of little baby squash growing now … I will have to keep a close eye on their growth, harvesting when the frost hits! I think this is another volunteer from the compost soil .. how fun.
Nasturtiums in the sun from this afternoon …
And this little sunflower caught my attention .. with the swirling, ever-growing tendrils of a squash plant growing up the stem .. looking like one of those crazy English hats! Quite a sight, don’t you think?
There are so many things to do in the garden right now! I’ve finally sorted out the Red Wigglers from the compost container. What a job that was. I’ve had the worm compost for three years and finally took the time to sort out the lovely rich worm castings from the wigglers. After about a week .. I think … I’ve finally sorted them all out and now have a fresh compost containers .. and a container of rich castings for my plants .. plus a container of wigglers to give to a friend!
Finally, this was done, my Mason Bees were cleaned and put away in the fridge. Now I can focus on other things to do in the garden. One of these things is to figure out what plants I have and where to put them. Imagine my surprise when I found this lovely Pussy Willow .. it needs sun, but managed to survive in the shade. Oh lovely darling ..I moved you to the sun and tomorrow will treat you to a drink of EM ..
Well .. it’s been a day .. and now JaneE and I are away to watch Coronation Street!