The nesting blocks are stripped of their larvae with cocoon extraction machines which harvest loose cell cocoons. The loose cocoons are bagged and stored at a cool temperature to maintain dormancy.
Empty styrofoam nesting blocks are put back together with straps and stacked ready to go back to the field in the spring.
Blocks full of larvae are cut and stamped for Backyard Pollinators, the wooden bee barns are branded and stacked ready for the upcoming season.
200 bags of loose cell cocoons will be measured into 1,500 incubation trays. The trays are stored in cooled rooms which keeps the larvae in a dormant state until we begin incubating the bees in early June.
When the weather warms up and the ground unthaws we can proceed with shifting the blue bee huts into new stands of alfalfa. A GPS is used to make sure that the rows of huts are straight.
As people begin planning their gardens the online ordering of Backyard Pollinators gets busy, our local post office sends our packages safely on their way.
Planting of our crops commences, we typically grow lentils, wheat, oats and canola. The perennial alfalfa plants begin to send up new growth.
Truckloads of nesting blocks are taken to the field and hung inside the bee huts, there are usually 12 doubled-up units in each hut.
The month of June causes both anxiety and excitement, imagine knowing that 60 million babies will arrive in 4 weeks! The incubation rooms are heated to 30C and very closely monitored. Bees begin to emerge around Day 23, the weather and development of the alfalfa crops determines when we release the hatched bees.
The night before we take bees to the field we cool the incubation rooms (to calm the bees) and remove the tray lids. Early the next morning the truck is loaded with trays of hatched bees. At the field trays are placed on top of the nesting blocks to keep them dry.