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7. Releasing Bees

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7a. Management during bloom

 

7.  Releasing Bees

When outside temperatures warm, or one week before fruit bloom, move cocoons into an emergence box with an escape hole about 5/16 inch.   If you have purchased cocoons from Pollinator Paradise, our cardboard and wood emergence boxes work well.  Dump cocoons out of the plastic bag into the emergence box.  For cardboard emergence boxes, rotate the lid to expose emergence hole, and tape the box closed.  Tape cardboard emergence box to the bottom of a bee board with the emergence hole exposed.  Or place the box close to the bee board in a shelter or other protected place.   Wood emergence boxes can be attached to our large or extra large metal roof or they can be placed next to the bee nesting board in a shelter.

For natural bee emergence , move bees to their emergence site before temperatures begin to warm, usually March (Pacific Northwest, California, Southeast) to April (most other areas).  When temperatures warm, watch for bees emerging.  Males emerge first.  The female bees may be slow to emerge, especially if nights are cold.  Be patient. 

If you want bees to pollinate fruit trees such as apples, which bloom after temperatures warm, keep bees in a refrigerator until about a week before your fruit trees bloom.  Often an earlier blooming fruit tree or shrub can be used as an indicator that the late fruit will bloom in about a week.  For example, plum or peach bloom may indicate that cherry or apple will bloom soon.   

Be sure temperatures are close to 35F (2C) when holding bees for late emergence.  At 40F (4C), males may start to emerge in your refrigerator after holding them for three or four weeks.  Do not try to hold cocoons for more than about 4 weeks, or their mortality will increase.

For pollination of almond, you will need to accelerate emergence.  See Bosch and Kemp, How to Manage Blue Orchard Bees
 

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7a. Management during bloom

Once bees have started to nest, do not try to move the nests to a new location.  Bees become easily disoriented if you move their nest after they start foraging. 

During after bees have emerged, watch weather forecasts.  If a hard freeze is expected during bloom, you may want to move their nests temporarily into a refrigerator overnight, or cover the nest with a blanket or other insulation to keep the nests from freezing.   Wait until after dark to move or cover the nest, and be sure to remove the insulation or return the nest to the exact same location the next morning.   If you move a nest, carry it with entrance holes facing up so feeding larvae stay on their pollen resources. 

About once a week during bloom and periodically during the summer tighten the bolts on the Binderboard with the bolt-tightening device.  If you move the Binderboard to do this, be sure to return it to the exact same location and orientation when you finish.

Most of all enjoy watching the bees as they come and go from the nest with pollen or mud.  Seeing them on the flowers is more difficult.  Don't expect to see or hear lots of orchard bee activity on the flowers.  It takes far fewer orchard bees (250 -300 females) than honeybees (one or two healthy hives) to adequately pollinate an acre of fruit trees.  That means there are far more flowers than bees in an acre of trees in full bloom.  The best time to look for orchard bees on flowers is shortly before dusk, when they all come out for a drink of nectar before dark.

See also  Nest Shelters and Providing mud holes.
 

 

 

 

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Back to Orchard Bee Management Guide Contents
 

Pollinator Paradise      Pollination Ecology at UI    The Solitary Bee Web   
 Rearing Solitary Bees    Suppliers    References   Bee Gardens    FAQ   Links    Contact Us  
New Mexico Native Bee Pollinator Project   About Dr. Strickler 
Bee Nests and Accessories
  Bee Photo Gallery  
Trapnesting Wasps and Bees

Page added 1/1/2009