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Hello everyone!

About 3 months ago I made my first Mason Bee house! I think my first summer was quite successful, I not only have Mason bees but also Leaf Cutter Bees! I am excited, however, I am very concerned about winter. I really would like to find someone that is near my area that could mentor me a little bit and give advice. The winters are so cold and long that I'm worried my bees won't survive.

I plan to keep the cocoons over winter in a root cellar because my parents told me that I couldn't keep the bees in their fridge, haha. Then let them out in the spring to hatch.

My main issue is the timing. I don't know when I should move them in there or let them out. I also still need to separate the cocoons and clean them.

Any advice or suggestions are welcome!! Thank you! :)
 

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Hello!

I see that your posting is from Sept, so you probably already brought in your bees. I brought my mason bees in last week (Oct 30). I opened one cocoon and had a fully formed bee, so I harvested the other cocoons and put them in a mini-fridge.

I only have one year with mason bees, so I can't claim to be an expert. I relied alot on the Crown Bees website that has good information including how-to videos -- check it out at www.crownbees.com.

I believe you want to store the cocoons around 35 F. Will your root cellar be in that range? Keep an eye out for mold. I had some issues with that last year. You can rinse the cocoons in bleach/water if you see mold. If you keep the cocoons in the fridge, make sure you consider humidity. Most fridges are frost-free and maintain too low of humidity. Keep a moist sponge near the cocoons or use some sort of humidity chamber (crown bees sells a basic option).

As for timing next spring, I would suggest taking them out in 3 batches. Since you live in WI, you are well aware of the temp swings that can happen in the spring (I'm in MN). Start thinking about releasing the first batch around beginning of April, another two weeks later, and another two weeks after that. Adjust accordingly if we have an early or late spring.

Hope that helps! Good luck!
 
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