Beekeeping: Far More Than A Hobby or Kit
Did you know? For the first time in recorded history, several species of American bees have been added to the endangered species list. Several environmental factors contribute to their decline but the easiest way to counter their decline, is to create and maintain a space for them to thrive!
So it’s time for us hobbyists to unite- and bee-come beekeepers!
A common misconception: “Beekeeping” is making honey…. And this is wrong. We are here to hopefully introduce you to the world of the non-aggressive, solitary, native bees.
Your New Hobby Box includes:
- A bee-redemption code for Mason or Leafcutter bee cocoons
- A bee habitat domicile
- ‘Easy Tear’ tubes
- Rubber band
- Pack of “Bee Happy” seeds
- Pack of “Feed the Bees” seeds
- Crown bees booklet
***Please read this blog in it’s entirely before starting your new hobby 🙂 😉
Assuming you have reached this blog due to the insert inside of your New Hobby Box, please keep it. The insert contains a unique code that will allow you to have bees shipped to your house. (if you so choose)
There are roughly 150 species of native North American pollinators (bees). Of native pollinators, you will hear about Mason bees the most. Mason bees (along with all other native pollinators) are solitary. Meaning they do not have a hive or a ‘queen bee’. Instead, each female bee is a queen and she will lay eggs and raise offspring on her own. The huge advantage for us is that since these bees do not have a hive to protect, they are known to be extremely docile and very rarely sting!
Let’s pause for a second and ask…. Why do we care?!
*FACT* Bees greatly contribute not only to the pollination of wildflowers, but also to the pollination of agricultural crops. It is estimated that bees and other pollinators pollinate almost 90% of flowering plants and 70% of the 124 world’s main crops. *FACT*
Alright, let’s resume….
Since Mason bees, Leafcutter bees and all other solitary bee species do not live in hives, instead they are considered tunnel nesting bees because they nest in tunnels. They are known to nest in existing holes left behind by wood-boring insects, hollow stems of plants or by manmade tubes like the ones you have received in this month’s New Hobby Box.
Now (Mid-April to Mid-May) is the best time to start raising and attracting your native bees. If you already garden, they will be a great addition to your crops and help tremendously. But if you do not garden, no worries! Your bees will contribute to the existing flora or the flowers that grow from the seed packets we have sent you 🙂
What types of seeds are included in these packets?
- Red Poppies
- Plains Coreopsis
- Annual Baby’s Breath
- Corn Flowers
- and other varieties 😉
Your flowers will need a time to grow, so I suggest planting them as soon as possible.
The “easytear” tubes were chosen for your kits because they are…… EASY TO TEAR! Aka, great for beginners.
The nesting tubes we sent should be held tight together with a rubber band to eliminate the possibility of them moving or falling out. Place your tubes inside of the domicile, and voila! You’re open and ready for guests.
Next, choose a place for your bee domicile. A location with morning sun is best. Also, mounting your domicile at eye level is recommended by most bee experts so you can 1. Protect your bees from rodents and 2. Take advantage of the amazing view!
Please have a look at the following two videos, as they are both full of great information about solitary bees and how to care for them.
Once you redeem your code, you will be shown a calendar and will need to choose the best day to ship your bees. They take about a week to arrive, so make sure to mark your calendar! If you’re a busy worker bee, consider having your bees shipped to your office so they don’t receive too much sun exposure whilst sitting out on your front porch.
You will be prompted on whether you would like to receive 10 Mason bees OR 30 Leafcutter bees. Both species are non-aggressive and solitary.
To the naked eye, the main difference between the two species is that Leafcutter bees use leaves to make their cocoons whereas Mason bees use mud! (If you watched the above videos- you already know this 😉 )Here are examples of both:
The best time to order is once daytime temperatures in your area average at least 50-55 degrees and blossoms are open. We recommend ordering your bees ASAP! And if the weather in your area is finicky, you can store the bees in their packaging (in a fridge) for up to 5 weeks.
Once you receive your bees you will place them in or directly next to your bee domicile making sure to keep them out of the direct sunlight. They can take up to 4 weeks to fully emerge and choose their nesting holes. DO NOT place cocoons in nesting holes, they will do this themselves 🙂
*If you ordered Mason bees, consider digging a small hole near their domicile and continually filling it with water to create mud. This will help them in their home-making process.
Interested in what your friends look like? Check out this short video of a Mason bee upclose created by our friends at Crown Bees. (These are the same awesome people who will be sending you your bees)
You’ll notice that the booklet included in your New Hobby Box is also from Crown Bees.
We hope you use this as a supplemental resource that you can carry with you as you are outside with your bees!
If you are wondering whether you should order Mason bees or Leafcutter bees… check out pages 3 and 4.
Page 7 and 8 contain a table that is essential for you in understanding tasks that need to be fulfilled to aid in your bee’s success.
You’ll notice by looking at April, that we are right on track! 😉
Page 12 gives you some further information about nesting tubes and the options you have true beekeeping prowess.
Next year, if you’re hoping to upgrade to lake bed reeds or reusable wooden trays, please take advantage of our friendship with Crown Bees and use promo-code: NEWHOBBYBOX17 at checkout to receive 10% off your order 🙂 🙂
Once you order your bees, they will arrive in a small box via USPS and then packaged in a smaller box like this:
The white bag-ish thing on top is an ice pack of sorts to keep the bees cool and dormant.
This is why it’s important to not have them out on your front porch too terribly long. In my experience, my Mason bees were left on my front porch for about 3 hours and then I placed the box in my refrigerator (with a cup of water next to it to add moisture) for about a week before I was ready to have them hatch…. and they were completely fine.
Before doing so, I made sure that daytime temps were averaging above 60 degrees and I had open blooms nearby for the bees to pollinate.
The bees are sent with specific instructions, so follow them carefully! Rather than setting the open box beside the domicile, I chose to open it and put it behind tubes inside the domicile.
First, I ripped off the flaps. (If you choose to do this method as well- I HIGHLY recommend cutting the box shorter)
See the little fella that’s already emerged? He/She is alright! He’ll just wake up a little quicker than the rest of the bees.
Next, I carefully put the box in the back of domicile.
Then I put the tubes back in….
Remember I said the already emerged bee would wake up a little quicker? Well there he is 🙂
Notice how my tubes are extending the length of domicile? You DO NOT want this! This is why (if you chose to place box in the back of domicile) you should cut down the box a bit so your tubes will correctly fit into your house. This eliminates the threat of water damage to your bees.
If you were wondering…. To rectify my mistake with the above bee-house, I made an overhang with an old license plate to deter water.
If you hang out and watch as your bees emerge, you’ll notice that at first they are very sluggish and tired…. Why? Bees are ectothermic, meaning that their body does not retain heat. So in order to have the necessary body heat to fly and go about their business they need warmth from the sun! In short, The lethargic behavior you notice is sort of like them on low battery!
I have found that witnessing bees in action is amazing and I hope you find this to be equally as stunning!! Here are a few more videos that I found to be great and helped me learn more about the bees we are working with:
Do you have any questions about this process?
If you do, please drop a line below!
Wishing you and your bees a very happy spring. 🙂 🙂 🙂
-Kylie & The New Hobby Box team