Friday, April 2, 2010

My mason bees are hatching!

My solitary mason bee cocoons are hatching!!
After 4 days of over 50F in the nesting box out on my kitchen porch, this morning I noticed one of the little mud caps was missing on one of the six cocoon tubes, and I could see the empty chamber. The mud cap had been there intact yesterday. I could faintly hear little clicking noises from the tubes...somebody was inside the tube trying to chew their way out!

Shortly after that, I saw a couple other mud caps coming off in little chunks. I took a flashlight and a magnifying glass and I could see the fuzzy brown movements of a wiggling cocoon inside. By hanging around the box and checking every few minutes, I was able to watch two new adult mason bee males emerge from their cocoons! I had to be very quick with my camera, because once they exited the tube they only sat for a few moments stretching their wings before they took off flying to parts unknown! Here I thought they were supposed to hang around the box waiting for females, but no, they seemed to have an agenda. Maybe they were thirsty or just doing orientation flights?

Anyway, I'm pretty excited to know I was responsible for adding some new little mason bees to my neighborhood. I feel lucky to have seen at least two being born and to have gotten any pictures at all!
I think the rest will likely hatch later today and tomorrow. I hope to see the bees come back and hang around the nesting boxes soon. I'll be watching the garden flowers and the nesting boxes over the coming weeks...

I love that in the close up you can see a little bit of blue metallic sheen on the abdomen of the first male...and look at his little antennae sections! Click on the photos and they will enlarge to see more details.


  1. This is great news and you got great photos. The first moments as they emerge and fly are always special.

    So lets hope after scouting the area and perhaps refuelling they'll come back. My male bees often return at night and back into other empty tubes for the night, it's always funny to see their longer (than female antennae) poking out in the morning testing the air temperature.

    I wish you luck with the emergence and return of the females and hope to read the follow ups.

  2. Don’t worry the boys will be back….they know where the girls are! I know through you words, pictures, and my own fascination at the wonder of this all, how excited you are. The anticipation is building to almost a fever pitch. When you catch that first little girl whizzing quickly into the nest it will be like fireworks going off. Here is a real trick for you; try to get a picture of a female as she exits the hive. If you are a good enough photographer to catch an arrow in flight or you are patient and persistent you might get lucky and get a really cool picture. They take a little longer going in so they are easier to photograph while going in. It has occurred to me that perhaps you are having so much fun that it might be against the law.

  3. Well, I have not seen hide nor hair of *anyone* since I saw those two males exiting a couple of days ago. I have no idea what they are doing, or even if any females emerged. I want to give it another 10 days just to be safe before opening up the 6 cocoon tubes to see if any dead bees remained inside. I'd know a lot more then.

  4. Hi there and thank you so much for your comment on the blog! How wonderful to find your blog and see your bees emerging!.. and nice you have contact with Paul too. I am really hoping that more of us can raise the profile of the "other" bees. The mason bees are so very sweet! I hope you have a very good bee season and look forward to reading more!

  5. my mason bees are hatching and I know it's too early . 2/20/15.
    I put most of them in the refridgerator hoping to stop them for now.
    Vancouver, WA