October 2016 |
What's in this Issue:
Spring Mason Bees – Harvesting Time
First of all, why should you harvest your mason bees? If mason bees can take care of themselves and they are snug and safe in their little holes without any need from anyone to survive the winter... why bother? 
Mason bees are solitary AND gregarious, meaning they don't mind living close to their neighbors. Because there are so many bees in close proximity to each other, pests easily move from one hole to the next. Mites, diseases and fungus concentrate on that small area.
If you don't harvest your cocoons, pests can overrun your nesting holes and your bee population will dwindle each subsequent year. Please consider harvesting your cocoons!
It's quite easy and should take you under an hour.
We launched our new website Monday, and it features an expansive Learn section about all things hive-less bees. We have updated our Harvesting Instructions with details on how to open up all nesting materials in videos and pictures. We suggest you go there rather than rely on this quick summary.
Summary of how to harvest mason bee cocoons: (More detailed instructions can be found here)
  1. Open your nesting holes. Tear open the tubes/inserts, crack your reeds, or unstrap your wood trays.
  2. Using your finger, a philips screwdriver, or something similar, gently scrape out all cocoons and debris.
  3. Sort out the cocoons and throw away the debris (mud, pests, larva feces, pollen balls, etc.)
  4. If you find white larvae instead of cocoons, those are summer bees or beneficial wasps. Close that hole up and store them in someplace cold for the winter. We'll tell you what to do in April/May.
  5. Wash your cocoons in cold water. They are waterproof and can stay in the water for 15+ minutes. Rub them carefully between your fingers to get most of the mud/feces/mites off.
  6. IF you find chalkbrood, add bleach to your water and rinse afterwards. (1TBL bleach to 1 cup water)
  7. Pat them dry and continue drying in a cool area for an hour or so.
  8. Place them in a HumidiBee into your refrigerator. (Add 1 TBL of water to the HumidiBee)
  9. If you're nervous about your refrigerator, store them in a cold shed/garage.
  10. Clean up and throw away the debris.
Here's a video of a wood tray with examples of many different pests and diseases. If this hadn't been harvested, all of these pests and diseases would have infected next spring's bees.
If you reside in the greater Seattle area, consider joining us for our Harvest Party open house this Saturday, October 8th from 10am to 2pm. This is a great opportunity to see what we do day-to-day, plus you'll be able to get hands-on help harvesting your own cocoons.
FACEBOOK LIVE ~ a live harvesting event...
For those that can't make it and would like to see the action plus get a quick live demo, you can participate with us during a Facebook Live session on this Saturday at 11am PST. To watch this live demonstration and get a feel for the crowd at our building, tune in by clicking on this link at 11.
for our loyal Readers!

To kick-off our new website
and Fall mason bee harvesting, we've decided to celebrate!
with code: LoveCB16
Valid between 10/6 - 10/15
Join us!
> Saturday Oct. 8th 10-2p
>Woodinville, WA

This is a great opportunity to see what we do day-to-day, plus you'll be able to get hands-on help harvesting your own cocoons.

with Facebook LIVE
(details below)
on Facebook!

> How?
>When: Sat, Oct 8th
@ 11am pst

Check out our 
Summer Leafcutter Bees – Store in a cool place
Do NOT harvest your summer bees right now. Rather, store them in a cool space like a garage or shed in something rodent proof. Keep a little air flow inside. Our HumidiBee will suffice just fine.
If you have already harvested them, that's not a big deal. Protect them similarly in a HumidiBee-type container with bottom padding. If you have large larva from either a late summer bee or solitary wasp, they should survive just fine in this container.

The Crown Bees Family has turned a new leaf!
Danielle, Demarus, Emily, Debbie, Dave, and Ravi all spent the past two months rethinking, rewriting and revising the website. We think it looks awesome, is easier to find what you need and has much more to offer our readers.
You may find an misspelling or grammar correction. Do us a favor and let us know what page you were on (copy the complete page address) and the error. Our website will never be perfect, but we really want to come close. We'll read your critique and correct things quickly.
Is there a video or picture that should be added? Send it to us, we'll see where it might fit in and provide you credit.


You may also have noticed that we have a new logo and slogan. Our hat is off to Danielle... she's amazing. The shift away from a bee in the logo wasn't easy for some of us. As Crown Bees continues to expand our influence, our focus will remain on using solitary bees for pollination, but we're also concerned about sustainable food and earth-true practices. The logo shift allows us to do this.
There are a lot of elements in this design. Green for plants and yellow/orange for pollen. Nesting holes are found in the fruit. The yellow striped hole gives credit to all bees. The leaves out of the fruit show growth and life. The holes in the fruit also represent seeds due to pollination. There's even a small tribute to a crown in the stems of the leaves.
And the slogan... we can thank Debbie for that. "Think outside the hive." Clever! In all we do, we intend to honor the sophisticated honey-making bee. However, you can't pass up a simple play with words like this to tell people there are non-hive food-making bees in the world! 

Crown Bees' foundation is based on you, the backyard gardener, being successful raising mason bees. We're able to then sell them to other gardeners and nurseries, who will raise more. Ultimately, we're able to place bees into orchards and crops for more food to be raised.
That's why we write the BeeMail... to help you be successful with the next step.
Here's how the program works:
You have too many cocoons:
  • Before or after harvesting you feel you have more cocoons than you need for next year. A good rule of thumb is to keep around 100-200 cocoons. Which means that you'll need about 100-200 nesting holes for the following season.
  • Either give your excess cocoons away local friends or family, or send your excess to us.
  • If you send them to us, we'll buy them back from you in exchange for more nesting holes, a certificate to our website, or cash. Many of you send them to us for free, which we're very grateful!
The exchange:
  • After we've received your cocoons, we inspect them and let you know how many we received. If unharvested, we open them up for you and then let you know what we found.
  • Depending on what you requested, we'll mail new nesting materials to you, a Crown Bees gift card or even a check.
Our next step
  • We clean the cocoons and store them in our coolers in specific tubs by geographic region.
  • The bees are then rehomed back to their original region. Why do this step when our competitors don't? We've learned about diseases being sent from one side of the country to the other which isn't good for the population of bees on the receiving side. Thus, we try to keep populations of bees safe where we can.
If you're interested, please visit our BeeBuyBack page. We're easy to work with!
A last note:
While we need every possible bee back to us, we might run out of buying power into December and may lower the exchange rate for bees.  Think through participating sooner rather than later!
The Crown Bees team
A Mysterious Mini-Bee 
We know that our spring mason bees like bigger nesting holes and our smaller summer leafcutter bees like medium-sized nesting holes, so we put 8mm tubes out in spring and 6mm tubes out in summer. But what about all the other bees flying around? We've been experimenting with placing a variety of tube sizes out from spring through summer and have found some exciting results. 
Our team-member, Emily, placed a Pollination Pack out at her house in spring along with her wood mason bee trays. She found that the mason bees really do love natural reeds and discovered a mysterious bee rear-end in one of the 4mm tubes. While she never saw the entire bee, eventually that 4mm tube (and several other small tubes) were capped off with a mixture of chewed leaves and mud! 
We've been anxiously awaiting the fall to open these tiny tubes up and see what's inside. The time finally arrived and we found a little orange-fuzzed bee, about the size of our leafcutters. While these two bees are approximately the same size, we think they prefer different sized nesting holes due to the nesting substrate around or between egg chambers. Leafcutters construct mini-leaf capsules around their pollen/nectar loaf and the "new" bee simply erected mud and leaf walls between each egg and pollen loaf. Same size pollen loaf, but leafcutters need a larger hole for the leaves around the cocoon. 
Our friend Jim at the USDA Logan Bee Lab identified this little bee as Osmia kincaidii, which is among the littlest of the mason bees in western North America. It's a generalist, meaning it will collect pollen from many different sources and is a good pollinator for early crops. 
What have you found in your yard?
There are over 130+ hole-nesting native bees flying around and the best way to find them is to provide a nesting habitat for them. There are small, medium and large hole requirements all throughout the US and Canada! Consider placing a variety of nesting hole sizes in your bee houses for the spring and summer to see what you find.
We're interested in discovering if any of these "new" bees can be utilized as pollinators to create more food in a larger-scale way. 
A final note:
Things are really going well for Crown Bees thanks to partners like you. Growth allows us to bring in extra teammates that create more energy in more directions.
  • We're going to help provide more food to the world through using food-making bees.
  • We intend to learn and teach ecologicaly sustainable practices which are vital to correct some wrongs that humans are doing.
These goals might sound lofty, but they're obtainable through networking with people that care, learn, and do.
Thank you for reading this month! Do consider the sale we have just for a few days to just you, the BeeMail reader (See the link in the upper right corner of this newsletter). We hope to see you at the harvesting event or following the event on Facebook Live. I believe I'll be the one behind the camera... Give us a note, we'd love to hear from you!

Bee warm,
Dave Hunter  |  (425) 949-7954  |  13410 NE 177th PL Woodinville, WA 98072