We had a wonderful year in 2016 and recently brainstormed what we want to achieve in 2017. Simple, focused and impactful were our requirements.
- Many more nurseries and garden centers carrying mason AND leafcutter bee products. Eddie, our sales team member, is making great strides with reaching more nurseries across the nation. We may almost double the number of stores we'll have product in. This matters because many more people walk past displays of "innovative" products and become interested, try, and then are added to our list of native bee teammates!
- Placing more mason and leafcutter bees into farms and orchards. Jay, our Director of Farm Operations, is a commercial honey beekeeper who has realized the best way to save the honey bee is to begin using superior solitary pollinators alongside the honey bee in crops and orchards. We look to help multiple organic farms gain more food. We will be touching major buyers of organic food, who can then introduce us to their farmers. Costco, Organically Grown Company, Whole Foods, etc. If you have contacts within any of these companies or similar, please let us know. We want more organic food produced.
- Continued research to increase our native bee numbers. Dave works with researchers worldwide to learn better practices for our hole-nesting bees. Soon you'll be able to participate in a major Citizen Science Project that we'll announce next month. (See below) We're excited!
- Crown Bees is a small company with great energy and aspirations. We hope to continue to maintain high-quality customer service, build great products, and provide accurate educational information. We also hope you believe in us and our mission to create more food for the planet. Only through your successes will others hear about Crown Bees.
Tips and Reminders for Hibernating Bees
It's time to check on your cocoons in the refrigerator. Make sure there’s sufficient moisture in your HumidiBee. Add a teaspoon or two of water if the green pad feels dry.
- Be wary of mold growing on your cocoons. Mold is a spore that starts from a source within your refrigerator and floats in the air until it arrives on living things... like our slumbering bees in cocoons! The solution is easy: rinse the cocoons and HumidiBee pads in a mixture of 1 cup cold water to 1 tablespoon of bleach for about a minute. Rinse the cocoons in cold water, pat the cocoons dry with a paper towel and place everything back into the HumidiBee. Try enclosing the HumidiBee into a paper lunch sack. Mold spores should have a tough time getting through the fine air holes of paper.
- If you haven't harvested your cocoons, this is your last month to do it easily. Harvesting cocoons next month may have bees begin to emerge due to the action of opening nesting material. You can still harvest when you're ready for the bees to emerge in spring. Check out how harvest cocoons here.
- Your leafcutter bees and other summer wasps (which are now larvae) should still be tucked away protected outside in an unheated garage or shed!
January Inventory, And Why You Should Order Supplies Now
Hopefully, you've harvested your mason bees and have a rough idea of how many cocoons you have. If you haven't harvested, calculate about 6-7 cocoons per filled or capped nesting hole.
To increase the numbers of your bees, you'll want about 1 hole for each mason bee cocoon. Here's the math:
- Each mason bee queen (all females are a fertile queen) can lay about 20-25 eggs, but we find that at best, they fill about two nesting holes in their lifespan.
- In 100 cocoons, you have about 40 females. Thus, you'd need about new 80 nest holes for them. This is rough math and you should rather have more nesting holes for your bees than less. Thus, about 1 hole for each cocoon.
If you lost a lot of bees due to parasitic wasps (you found small holes in your cocoons), consider shifting to reeds, Bee Tubes and Inserts, or wood trays. The Bee Tubes we carry are low cost and work well if you protect them from the parasitic wasps in June with a BeeGuardian Bag, however, the walls aren't thick enough to stop wasps laying eggs through the side unless you add inserts.
Consider adding another house to your yard if all your nest holes were filled this year or the area you want pollinated is out of sight of the present bee house location. If you aren't sure about the best location for a house, consider experimenting by placing two houses in different locations. Your bees will nest in the most preferable to them. Morning sun is very helpful to your waking bees!
Why you should strongly consider ordering supplies now.
We are concerned about becoming too popular. It's a double-edged sword... great for business, but as we grow, it's tough to keep high standards in peak conditions. We expect to double our sales this year, which will have our warehouse and shipping teammates sweating profusely to keep up with orders. We may be delayed getting your orders to you promptly. Thus, if you have time, please order supplies or bees now.
Thank you ~ the operations team.
Connecting the Native Bee Network
As we learn more about mason bees, we begin to realize how much more there is to know... A while back we thought that ALL spring mason bees used the larger 8mm holes. ALL summer bees used the 6mm holes. Dave learned from his attendance at USDA bee meetings that there are some small Osmia species that use 4mm holes at various times in the year. North America could be home to an estimated 1,200 species of native bees that nest in large, medium and small holes in any pollination season.
In discussion with several lead entomologists, we find there is data naming the bees with some information, but not helpful to those trying to encourage their growth. Having more information would be amazing. There are many facts that bee researchers would be interested to know about our native hole-nesting bees:
- What state or what region do they live in?
- What size diameter of nesting hole do they prefer?
- What nest-building material do they like to use?
- When are they active?
- Are they specialists or generalists for flowers?
We will need your help in answering these questions. It starts by giving our native bees the best nesting habitat they need. Please buy our Pollination Pack. It has small and large reeds and bee tubes.
Crown Bees will launch a citizen science project called the "Connecting the Native Bee Network" hopefully by next month. The network will connect backyard native beekeepers like you with the academic community. Our goal is to fill in knowledge gaps about our hole-nesting native bees so that you can identify the bees in your yard and scientists can refer to data as they need it. Ultimately this information will be useful to farms and orchards near you. We hope to have the first stage of the project completed by February's BeeMail.
Stay Informed on Facebook
It's been a strange year of fake news and clickbait headlines. Crown Bees enjoys a good joke every now and then and if the story I post is funny I let you know (read this story about where all of the world's missing honey bees have been hiding in Sacramento from The Onion, a news satire site).
My daily goal with social media is to raise awareness, advocate for bee health, and share news stories with you that are accurate, well-written and enjoyable to read.
If an article doesn't meet these criteria, I don't post it. I will occasionally post something wrong as an example of how some journalists still have some learning to do when it comes to bees. I know that reading criticism isn't always fun, but I see it as a way to point out what needs to change and why.
The most common mistake made with news stories is ignorance of our native bees which is personally frustrating. Many stories write as if only the honeybee (and maybe bumblebee) exists. The needs of native solitary bees are different than social bees because they stay close to home, they don't live in hives, and many native bees prefer specific flowering native plants. ...and unfortunately die with aerial spraying for mosquitos.
If you don't already, please follow us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the newest research and news stories. I try my best to add our native bee expertise in my commentary and we all strive for accuracy. You can trust us. If you ever feel we made an error, please let us know. Native bees need all of us to get to know them so that we can help them thrive.
Our facebook page has wonderful engagement. There are plenty of comments from people all day. I and my teammates look to respond to each question directed to us.
I've really enjoyed sharing every day of the past year with you and I hope you've had fun, too!
CrownBees.com | (425) 949-7954 | 13410 NE 177th PL Woodinville, WA 98072