Harvest Leafcutter Bee Cocoons


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Leafcutter bees are one of many many species of bees which are thought of solitary. This implies you received’t discover them as a part of a swarm or in beehives. As an alternative of storing honey in closed hives fabricated from wax, they’ve a distinct technique, as you might need guessed from their title, they minimize leaves. Utilizing sharp jaws, the feminine bee cuts neat circles on the leaves of roses, lilac or pea vegetation. Leafcutters favor non-hairy leaves which are additionally skinny, akin to rose leaves and cherry leaves. The vegetation aren’t harmed by this and the bee has an vital use for the fragment. The feminine bees will curl up the leaf circle between her legs and fly to her chosen nesting spot. Favourite nesting factors are small tunnels, which the bees both discover in a hole stem or tree or if they should, they dig them out of free materials akin to dry soil. They might additionally use flower petals. On this article, we’ll focus on how one can harvest leafcutter bee cocoons.

About Leafcutter Bee Pollination

Alfalfa leafcutting bee (Megachile rotundata), insect collects nectar on echinacea flower

Leafcutter bees are liable for pollinating very many vital crops akin to alfalfa (used to feed livestock), vegetables and fruit. They do that consequentially whereas they harvest leaves. They bellyflop onto the pollen whereas discovering and chopping leaves after which onto one other flower and eventually, they transport the leaves to their nests. While doing so that they unfold the pollen which falls from their bushy our bodies. The leafcutter bee is so environment friendly that one leafcutter can do the job of as much as 18 honeybees. Contained in the leaf cocoon, the egg will develop right into a larva, creating right into a pupa and in a month or two emerge as a fluffy grownup leafcutter bee, able to proceed the cycle yet again.

Contained in the nest, the bee will then organize the leaves into skinny ball-shed rooms. She is going to then retailer nectar and pollen for meals and lays a single egg on high of the meals horde. Sealing up the room with one other fragment of leaf, she creates a protected haven with all the pieces a creating bee larva might want to survive via hibernation into full maturity. However her work is just not accomplished as she might want to lay a number of extra eggs and thus create extra cocoons for them. The leafcutter creates as much as 20 nurseries in a single nest.

Elevating this bee may be very simple, you simply want small holes and them into one thing that retains them dry (like a small bee home). You have to to keep away from man-made chemical compounds as solitary bees are inclined to keep away from their scent. Leafcutter bees are summer season bees; they emerge when temperatures attain about 77° F (25° C), that’s, between 74° F (23.3° C) to 79° F (26.1° C). The nests must be saved close to water, meals and if attainable with direct contact to early morning dawn.

Total, harvesting leafcutter bees is each simple and helpful to anybody who has an curiosity. One might begin planting greens and crops proper after incubating their leafcutter bees so that after the bees have hatched, they meet blooming flowers and rising vegetation. On this case, the bees won’t be compelled to go elsewhere to begin their duties of pollination and leaf harvesting.

Causes to Harvest Leafcutter Bee Cocoons

Leafcutter bees are environment friendly pollinators. It’s required that their inhabitants is stabilized by making certain their eggs survive hibernation all through the winter into the summer season. Leafcutter cocoons are fabricated from leaves and subsequently are typically extraordinarily fragile. This is without doubt one of the many the explanation why you will need to harvest them. Usually, in nature, the bees must survive the tough winter with no human assist. Many of the cocoon finally ends up being compromised by the tough climate and this results in a lot of the bees dying from the chilly and water earlier than they even have absolutely developed. Alternatively, if the cocoons are harvested, they are going to be safely saved in a managed atmosphere rising their possibilities of survival.

Leafcutter bees are exponentially productive bees, they entice loads of parasites and pests that need to munch on them and their pollen. The pests additionally infect your bees with fungi which unfold killing many and will at instances be excessive.

These pests embody pollen mites, chalkbrood, and tunnelling worms. The chalkbrood fungi assault via the partitions of the skinny nesting tubes. What occurs is that the bees munch on the chalkbrood spores that are blended into the pollen loaf, and the chalkbrood fungi kill the bees and rework them into larva-shaped spores. The surviving bees hatch and unfold the fungi within the cocoon and on the pollen, solely to be eaten once more and affecting extra bees. This continues till there’s a full wipeout.

One other pest that has been a significant issue is pollen mites, that are microscopic bugs that eat pollen. These mites arrive caught to the pollen underneath the bee. If their numbers are sufficient, these mites eat all of the pollen earlier than the eggs can hatch and eat the pollen. It’s usually a race to see who can eat the pollen first, resulting in a scarcity of meals for the bees.

The easiest way to keep away from such pests is to reap your leafcutter bee cocoons through the spring. This fashion, the pests received’t be round to infest your nests. Birds are additionally a formidable enemy to the leafcutter bee. Due to this fact, you need to keep away from holding fowl baths near the bee nest.

Cocoon harvesting can be accomplished commercially for contract pollination. Some corporations harvest bees in order to lease them out or appear them to farmers for pollination functions. It is a comparatively untapped subject that has proven important potential as it’s efficient. Cleansing your bee homes proper earlier than reentering the cocoons will assist eradicate all pests and parasites which may have nested throughout the leafcutter bee cocoon.

Morally it’s our accountability because the keepers of the leafcutter bees to take excellent care of those stunning and vital pollinators. That is achieved by constructing and putting in the nests in addition to harvesting their cocoons. That is essential because the bees will result in the betterment of our surrounding atmosphere and in the long term, environmental stability.

Steps to Harvest Leafcutter Bee Cocoons

Harvest Leafcutter Bee Cocoons
Closeup on a feminine leafcutter bee, Megachile, posing in entrance of her nest on the bee-hotel within the backyard

Harvesting leafcutter bee cocoons must be accomplished in early spring proper when the dandelions are beginning to bloom. Harvesting on this case means retrieving the cocoons from their nests, and cleansing and storing them. Enable your leafcutter bees about 5 to seven weeks of incubation in order that they will grow to be adults.

There are a number of choices of nests that can be utilized as nesting houses for bees, particularly:

  • Bamboo nests.
  • Pure reeds nest.
  • Cardboard nests and picket trays.

Issues to count on when harvesting embody:

  • Wholesome leafcutter bee cocoons
  • Bee frass
  • Chalkbrood
  • Pollen mites or different kinds of parasites
  • Lifeless leafcutter bees
  • Pollen loaves from unhatched bees

1. Harvest Leafcutter Bee Cocoons From Bamboo

Cocoons might be harvested between fall and winter when bee actions have decreased; any sooner and also you’ll be risking the event of the larva. Whereas harvesting leafcutter bee cocoons, have in mind they’re fabricated from leaves and thus extra fragile than most cocoons, thus further care should be taken. This turns into a bit tougher when utilizing bamboo as it’s sturdy and would require a bit extra stress to open. Cocoons might be saved in nesting tubes or extracted.

 To extract from bamboo, the instruments you would possibly require are:

  • Philips-head screw driver
  • Pencil or a pen
  • Popsicle stick


  1. You should use a small sledge opener which is positioned at one opening and gently nudged in a single path as you flip the bamboo in the wrong way along with your hand; this ensures it breaks in half lowering the possibilities of damaging the cocoons.
  2. Whereas utilizing the tip of the pencil/pen, push the cocoons slowly and safely onto a paper towel or material.
  3. Choose one cocoon at a time as you rely them whereas discarding the broken or empty ones.
  4. Place your cocoons in a guard bag, and go away the highest open.
  5. Place the open bag into one other bigger bug and place a protected bee lure in one other bigger bag.
  6. Seal the bigger bag and begin storing it in a cool dry place.
  7. As soon as the grownup bees emerge, they change into trapped stopping them from escaping early. As quickly because the bees are seen to have emerged, take the bag out and launch them close to their nests in order that when they’re accomplished exploring, they are going to return to the nests. The cycle will proceed because the bees get to work instantly.

Discovering different bugs within the nests is totally regular as they like nesting within the protected havens of bees. Any fungi or different infestations akin to chalkbrood are additionally frequent and must be handled as they result in bee scarcity.

Nevertheless, since bamboo tends to be tough to open up, it’s advisable to make use of a extra bee-friendly nest that may even be simple to open to scale back the variety of bees misplaced throughout cocoon retrieval.

2. Harvest Leafcutter Bee Cocoons From Pure Reeds

Earlier than you start, selected a clear working place and collect the required harvesting instruments. The method is often messy thus chances are you’ll favor to put a material or paper tissue onto the desk earlier than enterprise the duty of harvesting.

Instruments chances are you’ll require embody:

  • Cocoon comb. You might also use a standard plastic comb however the cocoon comb is preferable as it’s made for this explicit process thus lowering injury and will increase on velocity.
  • Cocoon guard bag or a bee guard bag.
  • Sturdy small brush akin to a toothbrush.

Pure reeds are the best choice as they’re extra environmentally pleasant. They’re additionally very simple to open and require little pressure thus don’t compromise the delicate cocoons. For pure reeds, chances are you’ll need to use a small picket strip to test if the tube is absolutely occupied or reusable. Merely run the strip in, via the tube and when you discover there are not any cocoons chances are you’ll set it apart for the following harvesting season thus lowering wastage and value.


  1. Open up the pure reed utilizing your fingers and nails, usually the ends don’t have any cocoons so don’t concern nipping the ideas. To be sooner chances are you’ll use a hand cutter, cocoon comb (use the sting as it’s made a bit sharp) or scissors.
  2. Pry open the cocoon comb being cautious to not injury the cocoons. The cocoons are anticipated to be inexperienced, yellow or soiled brown in shade. Many different issues akin to parasites, fungi or bugs are anticipated as nicely.
  3. Utilizing the cocoon comb, take away the cocoons safely and place them on the paper towel. Select no matter is misplaced and gently brush off any pollen mites which may be on there.
  4. Now you can place the cocoons in a bee guard bag or another bag that’s breathable. Retailer the cocoons in a cool dry place till it’s time to put them again into their nests. You possibly can throw the used reads out and return the unused ones again to the sitting location.

On the draw back, pure reeds aren’t almost as exhausting as bamboo and this makes it simple for different bugs akin to wasps and bumble bees to make their means into the nest via burrowing holes within the sides. They’re additionally simple to penetrate by birds via the openings.

3. Harvest Leafcutter Bee Cocoons From Cardboard

Cardboards are additionally simple to open and thus very preferable to most individuals. They’re additionally simple to amass as they’re quite common.

Instruments required would come with:

  • Cocoon comb
  • Bee cocoon bag
  • Scissors or an all-purpose cutter


  1. First, run a skinny picket strip via the tube to test how full they’re. To advertise accuracy, place the strip inside and use a pen to mark how far the strip can attain.
  2. You’ll then take away the strip and place it on the tube ranging from the marked spot and mark it on the tube the place the opposite finish of the strip reaches. You could do that for each ends to mark outpoints chances are you’ll minimize out to scale back wastage.
  3. Tear or use scissors to fastidiously snip the ends of the cardboard bee tube. Use your fingers to softly unravel the tube. With care, use your fingers to separate the leafcutter bee cocoons from the paper and place them on a clear or so floor. Brush off any particles on the cocoons and take away the spoilt ones, leaving wholesome viable cocoons.
  4. You could now place the cocoons in a breathable bag akin to a cocoon guard bag. Retailer them in a cool dry place as you await the time when you possibly can return them to their nests, which is the summer season.

Word that leafcutter bees aren’t like mason bees, they can’t survive in water and thus shouldn’t be washed or saved wherever the place they will come into contact with loads of moisture. This is the reason they’re saved in breathable baggage in order to not sweat and create a moist atmosphere. Because you don’t wash them, it’s unimaginable to get all of the pollen mites off and this may pose a hazard to the cocoons they’re hooked up to. Consequently, fixed checkups that guarantee issues are shifting on nicely are required.

4. Harvest Leafcutter Bee Cocoons From Wooden Trays

Wooden trays are essentially the most advisable technique as they’re simple to open and don’t require any breaking and thus are reusable again and again. They might require a little bit of upkeep by merely cleansing whereas the bee cocoons are in storage.


  1. Take away the rubber bands holding the boards collectively (usually 3-5 boards).
  2. Take away the cardboard base and place them safely apart for reassembly.
  3. Raise one tray at a time utilizing a cocoon comb to softly scrape them off onto a paper towel-covered floor. Particles may come off so you may be required to handpick them and eliminate them individually.
  4. Place the wholesome cocoons in a breathable bag akin to a guard bag and retailer them in a cool dry place. You’d prefer to time the summer season in order that when the bees come out of their cocoons, they are going to be residence and can undertake that place as their nesting place.
  5. Use a brush to brush off the particles and grime left on the wooden trays. Put some water and a tablespoon of bleach in a shower and use it to scrub the trays. Rinse the trays and place them exterior to dry.
  6. As soon as dry collect all trays, rubber bands and cardboard bases and retailer them because the bees hibernate.
  7. As soon as {the summertime} nears, chances are you’ll reassemble the trays and return them to their unique place the place you’ll later place the ready-to-hatch leafcutter bees.

For leafcutter bees, the entrance of the wooden trays is often painted black to enhance heat within the field. Word that:

  • Leaving unoccupied bins out might entice different bugs and for this reason it’s advisable to retailer them when not in use.
  • Offering exterior housing for any nest is important because it prevents any environmental injury to the tubes or trays.
  • You must periodically test the saved cocoons in case parasitic wasps emerge to assault them.
  • The temperature ought to at all times be regulated the place the leafcutter bees are saved because the cocoons aren’t as risky as different bees.
  • Utilizing variable dimension tubes helps the bees keep in mind their nest thus lowering confusion.
  • At 86° F (30° C), adults will begin to emerge after about 18-23 days whereas at 69.8° F (21° C) they emerge between 40-45 days.


Figuring out how you can harvest leafcutter bee cocoons is vital when you’re going to maintain them. Leafcutter bees are one of many essential, plain species which are very important for his or her pollination effectivity. They serve the aim of not solely rising but additionally diversifying the vegetation in our gardens and farms. They’re an vital facet to contemplate when beginning a backyard be it a vegetable or flower backyard. They are going to guarantee continued progress in your crops, fruits and vegetation and can by no means disappoint.

It should be famous, nevertheless, that holding leafcutter bees discourages irrigation as it should disrupt the bees’ work of leaf amassing and irrigating. The place irrigation is critical, one is suggested to irrigate through the chilly season when the bees are in hibernation or at night time when the bees are inactive. For giant-scale farmers, leafcutter bees for the summer season will quadruple your productiveness with little draw back. The bees will enhance the pollen circulation for you and your neighbors and also you don’t have to fret about them stinging because the males don’t have a stinger and the females are very peaceable. As an alternative, the males have a wiggling finish that poses no risk to you, any youngsters round and even pets.

Many of the devices required can be changed by easy objects at residence thus little or no cash is spent on buying them. Resulting from their tiny dimension and bushy our bodies, they will simply pollinate even the smallest of flowers or crops which are the spine of our meals system. The one requirement is to keep away from utilizing any synthetic or artifical chemical compounds. For newcomers, we suggest one nesting gap per 2 leafcutters. The start is likely to be sluggish however with persistence, the quantity slowly will increase and you’ll quickly witness the benefit of getting this helper in your land. When you selected the bee harvesting life-style, you’re on the street to serving to America and at giant the world achieve extra pollinators again.


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