CrownBees.com  |  (425) 949-7954  |  13410 NE 177th PL Woodinville, WA 98072 
 
WHAT'S IN THIS ISSUE:
1. Introducing the Native Bee Newsletter
2. Wild Bees in Randy's Urban Backyard

3. Tips for Managing Your Bee Hotels

4. Healthy Bee Hotel Products

5. Aphid Hunters - Tiny Beneficial Wasps
 
6. New Blog Entry: Nature vs Nurture
 
 
INTRODUCING THE NATIVE BEE NETWORK'S NEWSLETTER!
 
Today, you may be mostly interested in raising mason and leafcutter bees. These bee names actually represent hundreds of species that are "mason" and "leafcutter" bees. Some are small, some show up early or late in the spring or summer season. These bees should be found, nurtured, understood, and raised to larger numbers. When you raise bees that thrive around your yard, you gain better pollination.
 
The Native Bee Network Newsletter is our way of learning together how to protect and care for guests that check themselves into our bee homes. We have tried to send out our BeeMail only once a month but with so much to say, we felt that you would rather receive two smaller newsletters rather than one big one. We hope that you don't mind receiving both the Native Bee Network Newsletter mid-month and the BeeMail that will arrive at the first of each month. If you unsubscribe from either newsletter, you will unsubscribe from both.
 
It is awesome that we've seen a growing interest in providing nesting materials for wild bees. Not just among gardeners, but also universities like Cornell and the University of Washington. Universities are conducting research by setting out a variety of nesting hole sizes in order to live-trap bees. Live-trapping hole-nesting bees in materials that can be easily opened give researchers the ability to release healthy bee cocoons and return them to their habitats. Bees do not need to be killed in order to be studied in live-trap nests.
 
This newsletter's goals are to share what we are learning about wild native bees (and wasps) and help us all raise awareness about native bees (and wasps). Thank you for joining us on our pollinator journey!  
 
-The Crown Bees team
WILD BEES IN RANDY'S URBAN BACKYARD
 
Randy is a customer that was gifted mason bee cocoons several years ago and recently started raising leafcutter bees as well. Randy lives in urban downtown Marysville, WA and he wanted to know what else nested in his yard. In April, he came into our headquarters in Woodinville, WA to show us some curious cocoons that he had harvested from his backyard's bee house. 
 
Because Randy was raising leafcutter bees, he had provided many nesting holes that are sized 6mm. Throughout the summer season, Randy removed capped and filled nesting materials and wrote a note about the month that the bees were done with their work. He kept nesting materials separated and protected in their own LeafGuardian bags and after harvesting cocoons, he placed them back into their protective fine mesh bags.
 
 
We filmed a short interview with Randy in the video above. It shows a variety of really cool bees and wasp cocoons. 
 
 
In July and August, Randy saw a variety of bees using his bee house. The first interesting cocoons look like they may belong to Osmia coloradensis, a mason bee that loves flowers in the aster family. Bees have been observed to visit aster flowers for their own bee medicine and aster pollen is also an effective deterrent against some parasitic wasps. Aster flowers and bees have a very long evolutionary history and you might want to add daisies and sunflowers to your garden's beds. The smell of the cocoons is pungent and very noticeable.
 
In early August, a wasp that makes capped ends out of chewed up leaf nested in Randy's bee house. The nesting chambers are made up of mastic, which is chewed materials and these look like a mix of leaves and very small pebbles. The pebbles come from rolling the mastic on the ground. The larvae spun its own thin cocoon. It's a bit hard to see from the picture, but there is a small white larva inside the cellophane-like cocoon. On the right side of the mystery cocoon is the cocoon of a leafcutter cocoon for reference.
 
The last interesting cocoon has chamber walls that are made of tree resin or pitch. Bees or wasps that use resin or pitch must be active in the very warm summer months while tree sap is fluid and easy to gather. The guest inside the resin cocoons is in a larval stage, too.
 
One interesting fact is the orientation of Randy's bee house, which faces southwest. In the warm summer months, this orientation worked well in his yard. Each hole-nesting bee or wasp species may have a preference for the direction their nesting hole faces. If you have more than one bee hotel or house set up, make note of the orientations of each bee home as this may become a vital component of keeping wild bees happy in the future.
 
Tips for Managing Your Bee Hotels
 
Maintaining your bee hotel is a fairly easy task and the effort is well worth it. In 2016, the UN released a meta-data research study that showed that 40% of our insect pollinators are facing extinction. When we manage our bee hotels and bee houses, we are ensuring that our bee guests remain healthy and productive. Nesting materials should be natural, locally available (no exotic materials like imported bamboo), and easy to remove and open. To salvage your bee hotel's drilled blocks of wood, consider placing our inserts into 5/16" (8mm) drilled holes so that cocoons can be kept safe and harvested when the time is right. Smaller holes could have rolled up parchment paper placed within. 
 
Here are some of our tips for making your bee hotel a 5-star destination.
  1. Provide a variety of nesting hole sizes. Wild native bee species come in a variety of sizes and our nesting materials are in the proper size range and are long enough to support the right ratio of male to female egg laying. Include pithy cane stems for small ceratina bees.
  2. Periodically remove filled nesting materials. Leaving filled nesting holes beyond one nesting season places the bee and solitary wasp guests at risk for the spread of diseases and pests.
    • Make big changes to nesting materials at night so that nesting females can reorient in the morning.
    • When removed, bundle together individual nesting holes that have similarly capped ends & that were filled at similar times.
    • Label the bundles with a note, especially with the month that activity finished and any other behavior facts.
    • During the summer, store filled nesting holes upright with the capped end facing up in a warm outdoor temperature location, like a garden shed or garage. Temperatures that are too cold too early can inhibit bee development.
  3. Harvest cocoons. We will discuss more on this later but planning for nesting materials that can be easily opened now will save a lot of headaches and heartache later.
 
HEALTHY BEE HOTEL PRODUCTS
 
We have a small but growing selection of bee hotel products, all of which are designed with the health of bee guests in mind. Bee houses are the right size for protecting nesting materials from wind and rain. All nesting materials are meant to be opened (or at least changed out each season) for easily and safely harvesting cocoons when the time is right. 
Pictured above, the Bee Hotel is our largest bee house filled with a variety of nesting holes and it includes two pre-drilled boards for carpenter bees. The Bee Motel is a smaller bee home option and both homes come with Invitabee pheromone attractants for mason and leafcutter bees.

Do you want a DIY bee house? Our Pollinator Pack has a variety of 4mm, 6mm, and 8mm holes in a variety of cardboard and lake reed tubes. Simply install these nesting holes in your homemade bee home and replace as needed. Find out what bee or wasp is living in your area!
APHID HUNTERS - TINY BENEFICIAL WASPS
We're excited to share with you what we've learned about a tiny solitary wasp that nests in small holes or pithy stems. They are called Aphid Hunters or Aphid Killers and the scientific name of their genus is Pemphredon. Aphid hunters are very small wasps that are about 1/4" long and they nest in 4mm holes.
 
They prefer to gather and use the soft pith of broken canes to build their nest chamber walls. Open raspberry or blackberry canes can house these beneficial wasps and give them the nesting materials they need. Many species of these small wasps are found across North America and you can read more about them on this blog post. If you have a problem with aphids in your garden, add some 4mm nesting holes to your nearby bee house. We hope your yard already has these wasps. Providing holes for them will encourage their growth.
 
Each female wasp can gather a dozen aphids per nesting chamber! Remember, your yard NEEDS aphids at all times. If your yard is missing prey, the predators will move elsewhere. A balanced yard has food for all prey and predators.
 
 
NEW BLOG ENTRY: NATURE VS NURTURE
 

Our website is full of education about how to raise native hole-nesting bees, and our blog is a place to dive deeper into ideas, news, and research.
 
A common argument we hear when people first start raising solitary bees is: In nature, their cocoons are not harvested, why wouldn't I just leave them alone? Read our newest blog entry about the differences between wild, natural and man-made nesting holes.

 
CrownBees.com  |  (425) 949-7954  |  13410 NE 177th PL Woodinville, WA 98072