Loose Cell Bees

Benefits of buying loose cell bees:

At the end of the season bee farmers remove the bee cocoons from their nesting materials. They clean out any parasites or unwanted invaders from the bee house. The cocoons are then deemed loose cell bees. Find a full clean out tutorial here.

Without all the extra nesting materials the bees take up less space in the refrigerator, and they are guaranteed pest free. There are other advantages when it comes to purchasing bees loose cell, they are cheaper to ship, you are guaranteed to have the optimal ratio of male and female cocoons and get the exact number of bees that you purchase.

How to store loose cell bees in the fridge:

Bees should be stored in the refrigerator until the trees are budding and day time temperatures reach 55*F.

  • Remove any icepacks, keep bee cocoons in their cardboard box.
  • Remove everything from the bee safe and place 1/4 tsp. of water in the bottom of the bee safe.
  • Reassemble the bee safe, placing the cardboard box full of bee cocoons on top of the foam.
  • Position bee safe towards the back of the fridge where temperatures stay more consistent. 

Bee safes are not necessary but they have a few advantages. The main one being they prevent the bee cocoons from drying out in the fridge. If the bee cocoons dry out the bees may die. The average fridge humidity is 20-30% but the ideal moisture for cocoons is 60-70% humidity. In the bee safe there is a foam pad that sits below the cocoons that can be moistened periodically to increase humidity in the bee safe.  If you don’t have a bee safe you can purchase one here, or you can use another type of container, just be sure there are breathing holes in it.   All varieties of tunnel nesting solitary bees can be stored together in the same bee safe.

What to do if bees emerge in shipping:

 Bees should be shipped with an icepack after mid March to prevent emerging in shipping. Sometimes even with an icepack a few bees will emerge. If this is the case place the bees in their box in the fridge. They will go back into a dormant state and will be ready to pollinate as soon as they are warmed up.  They can be safely stored in the fridge for up to six weeks.

How to Release Loose cell Bees:

  • Remove the box of cocoons from the bee safe.
  •  Put a hole in the center of one of the sides of the box with a pencil. Be gentle piercing the box so you do not accidentally injure a bee.
  • Secure the bees to the side of your bee house or  within one foot of the house; this is to prevent the bees from blowing away before emerging. We use a large rubber band but any type of tie will work. 
  • Set up the bee house. For a full tutorial on choosing location and how to set up the bee house click here.
  • After bee have emerged (no longer than 3 weeks) remove the empty box from the side of the house and discard.
  • Your yard is now pollination station. Congratulations!