Our cocoon-sharing project is the only one of its kind in the UK
and makes caring for solitary bee species even more accessible
by taking out some of the dirtier, trickier elements of the process.
HOW does it work?
For a one-off payment, we send a Guardian Kit to your address.
Each Kit includes all the equipment and know-how you need to care for a small population of Red Mason bees (O. bicornis) that are delivered in the Spring.
ORIGINAL Guardian Kit (£75)
Bees arrive while in hibernation, inside cocoons, ready to be released outdoors into a pollen-rich garden or green space.
Over time, as air temperatures increase, the cocooned bees gradually emerge from their slumber and buzz into action!
VIDEO: RED mason bee emergence
Once flying, bees forage the nearby area, providing some awesome pollination power as they seek resources to construct brood cells in the nesting material provided.
A few months later, when the adult flight season is over, Guardians are left with mud-capped tubes and observation drawer cavities, all containing the next generation of bees!
HERE's where you come in!
To participate in the #BeeGuardian Project, occupied nesting material is collected by Guardians over the course of the nesting season and returned to MasonBees HQ in the Autumn.
With the bees now in diapause, (hibernation), we open up the nesting tubes and drawers, and remove any cocoons inside.
Cocoons are assessed, sorted and screened for parasites/diseases, before being placed into safe storage for the Winter months.
After this processing is complete, we let each Guardian know what we found inside their equipment in an annual 'BEE-port Card'.
Our collective Red Mason bee population is then re-allocated amongst our participants the following season.
In Spring, returning Guardians receive new/clean nesting material to replace whatever was sent in the Autumn, along with a fresh stock of cocoons to release and bee-gin the process once again!
New cocoons and equipment arrive. (March/April)
Bees emerge, pollinate, cap nesting tubes. (April-July)
Guardians return occupied material. (September-November)
BEE-port Cards are issued (December/January)
New cocoons and equipment arrive. (March/April)
DO I HAVE TO PARTICIPATE?
No! There's no obligation whatsoever to participate in our cocoon-sharing project with a purchase of a Guardian Kit.
Detailed instructions on all steps of the process are provided with the equipment, so individuals are able to care for their Red Mason bee population at home, if preferred.
NB: Guardians must always 'opt-in' at the end of each season to confirm ongoing participation and ensure that cocoons are resupplied the following season.
WHAT IF I HAVE NOTHING TO RETURN?
With much of solitary bee activity governed by the weather, sadly we cannot guarantee success - there are too many variables out of our control.
However, with this in mind, there's no pressure on your bees to succeed the first time around.
Guardians who end up empty-handed after their first year only need to complete a brief online form to remain part of the project and we'll supply another stock of cocoons at no additional cost in the following season.
Exclusive Guardian discounts and offers
Bi-annual 'Guardian's Guardian' Newsletter
HOW do I get involved?
Initial purchase includes one set of nesting equipment and one stock of O. bicornis cocoons (Red Mason bees) only. All included equipment/cocoons are the purchaser's to own.
Most of the nesting equipment is dispatched at the time of ordering, with the exception of O. bicornis cocoons and seasoned nesting tubes, which are dispatched separately in Spring 2022.
This season's cocoon dispatch will take place between March - April 2022.
At the end of each Guardian season, all participants are required make an equipment return, or complete a cocoon request form, to confirm ongoing participation.
Only MasonBees.co.uk-brand nesting material (nesting tubes and/or observation drawers) can be submitted into the Guardian returns service, unless by prior arrangement.
All occupied nesting material received is exchanged for clean nesting material on a like-for-like basis, i.e. if 8 x occupied inner tubes are received, 8 x clean refill tubes are returned.
There is no upper limit to the amount of occupied nesting material that can be returned.
required, additional nesting tubes/tube refills/ observation drawers for use over the nesting season are available to purchase from www.masonbees.co.uk/shop.
A percentage of all O. bicornis cocoons received are retained by MasonBees.co.uk each season in order to resupply unsuccessful Guardians and/or create additional participant places for future seasons.
Only O.bicornis cocoons are included in the Guardian Project, but nesting material occupied with any other solitary bee species can also be submitted in the Autumn. Any other species extracted from Guardian material are over-wintered and returned the following Spring for release at the point of origin.
To preserve any resident O. bicornis populations, Guardians returning a high volume of cocoons will receive an increased allocation the following season, unless otherwise directed.
MasonBees.co.uk reserves the right to discontinue the Guardian Project at any time.