“Winterizing” your Bee Block

Now that we’ve had a hard freeze and the flowers are succumbing to Autumn’s chill, we need to prepare our Bee Blocks for the winter months.  What does that entail?  Well, for the most part very little.

Cross section of Solierella nest showing two pale oval cocoons and debris nesting materials.

A cross section of a Solierella sp. nest showing two pale oval cocoons surrounded by loosely packed debris that was used as nesting materials.

The Bee Blocks must remain outdoors for the winter months.  While you and I would probably be very cold spending the winter in an unheated wooden shack wearing only a pair of silk long-johns,  the bee and wasp larvae contained in your Bee Block are adapted to spending the winter months wrapped tightly in their silken cocoons, in their natal nests, protected by the wood of the Bee Block.

One problem can occur, however, if a block has any large cracks in it.  Moisture can get into the cracks, freeze, expand, and potentially split the block.  During the next few weeks you should check your block for wide cracks, particularly if they extend up though the nesting tunnels.  This seems to be more of a problem for the larger diameter nest tunnels.  We want to prevent the Bee Blocks from cleaving, otherwise the young bees and wasps that will be exposed to predators.

Long crack extending through the column 2 nesting tunnels of block 131126.

A long crack extending through the column 2 nesting tunnels of block 131126.

If you do find long, wide, cracks, we recommend you simply cover them with a layer of duct or electrical tape, or you can use a thin bead of silicon caulk or wood filler.  Please don’t squirt so much caulk in the crack that it fills up the nesting tunnel!   “A little dab ‘ll do ya”, so to speak.  After creating a water barrier for the crack, we recommend either a couple of zip ties or several bands of wire, just to prevent the block from falling apart.  After that, it should be good to go.

Next Spring (or summer), your baby bees and wasps will emerge as adults and start the process all over again.

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