Greetings from Seattle

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Do You have Bees In Your Refrigerator?

I do. 
 In fact we have bees from two sources: Crown Bees, from whom we purchased bees that came in the mail, and Rent-a-Bees, from whom we are renting bees and picked them up on Saturday.

They look like this - fully developed but still in their cocoons, staying chilled until it is warm enough to put them outside. 

Tom has tried keeping Mason Bees before, with limited success. Mason bees are non-social, or non-hive, bees that are native, unlike honey bees.  They are gentle, non-aggressive, and great at pollinating. 

When it is warm enough and there is enough blooming to provide pollen, Tom will begin to release them.  They will be put out on the houses where they will come back to lay eggs. 

This is the house for the purchased bees. Whatever eggs are laid here in these tubes with straw liners will be harvested by Tom and wintered over again in our refrigerator.  
 Hopefully the placement will be right this year, on an east wall with morning sun and afternoon shade. 
 The rented bees came with this block of wooden "tubes". If you look closely you will see that the block can be opened up and the cocoons can be harvested and the blocks reused. These bees will be returned to the company from which we rented the starter bees. 
That bag of "mud" is clay that will be used to line a hole in the ground near the bee houses. The bees search for pollen, return to the house, crawl into a tube, lay an egg and then leave a pollen plug. The pollen plug supplies food for the developing bee. When a tube is full the bees make a mud plug to cap it. Since we have very sandy soil, the bag of clay supplies better mud for plugging the tubes. 

This is what a mature Mason Bee looks like. All those hairs are pollen catchers, so as the bees go from flower to flower, they do a great job of spreading pollen. 
The bees live for about two months. During that time it is hoped that they will have spread lots of pollen and laid lots of eggs to grow into next year's busy bees. 

Tom hopes this year he will be a better bee manager, and our fruit trees will grow lots of fruit. 


  1. People who raise bees are always fascinated by them. There are many things to learn and lots of surprises.

  2. Oh my, that all sounds terribly complicated. I've heard of Mason bees but not rent bees. I thought I'd heard of everything when I heard you could rent goats. Seems like bees would be much harder to keep up with.

  3. I don't have bees in my refrigerator but have been told that there are bats in my belfry. Good luck with the bees this year! Looking forward to seeing how it goes.

  4. Good luck with your bees! They are crucial to flowers and farming! :)

  5. What a fascinating post! I never in a hundred years would have guessed you could rent bees to do such important work. I'm allergic to bees so you'll never catch me with them in my refrigerator even though common sense says they can't sting me in that state.

  6. Good grief! I am not very knowledgeable about bees!! The only bees I have been in contact with this week was a bunch of yellow jackets that are in great numbers at the ranch, bumbebees that have buzzed so much they were driving me bats and a whole bunch of honey bees that have built hives in the north wall of the shop building that is right beside our camper!
    I must admit, I enjoyed seeing in your refrigerator! I felt like a peeping I spied a bottle of wine and some apples!!

  7. This is really amazing! Only two months? What a short life span. This sounds like such a fabulous way to get your flowers pollinated.

  8. This is so neat! Well I hope the bee-keeping works better this year and you get lots of fruit. I've about decided that it is impossible to grow any kind of fruit here in North Carolina! Here at our place anyhow.

  9. interesting ambitious activity that keeps Tom as busy as a bee, I'm!

  10. Good luck with your bees. With the honey bees being endangered, we need all the pollinators we can get. I keep thinking I will make some harvest bee houses. Maybe this year.

  11. We have lots of various pollinators here, so not keeping bees in the fridge, but we have hung bee houses.

  12. That is so neat! I never knew about bees that you keep in your refrigerator and use for your flowers. We have enough honey bees who happily buzz around and go off to who-knows-where. And lots of Monarch butterflies come into our little yard because our neighbors has a crown flower bush that the caterpillars feed on.

    Nature is so fascinatingly wonderful.

  13. I never knew you could rent bees! We seem to have plenty in hives nearby, since during the summer I see both bumblebees and regular honey bees. I don't think I see many Mason bees, but I'll keep my eye out this year for them. Fascinating! :-)

  14. Renting bees is a very interesting thing to do!! I hope your bees thrive and lay lots of eggs ( as well as pollinate all your fruit trees).


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