1. If you already have your box(s), tubes and bees then place the container of bee cocoons into your refrigerator for now. The little paper towel in the container should be checked each month for moistness so the cocoons don't dehydrate. Don't get the cocoons wet or they may become moldy.
2. Be thinking about where you plan to hang or affix the wooden bee house. Early morning sun right into the house opening is best as it gets them warmed up and off to work early. Protection from wind and rain are also considerations. If the box is out in the rain then tilt it slightly so any water drains out rather than in. Don't hang it from a tree branch or anywhere it could get bumped. Consider how to keep it out of the reach of mice, squirrels, birds and little boys with sticks.
3. In later March (generally) hang the bee house and place the cocoons into the PVC emergence tube. The tube is then hung onto the side of the house so that the exit hole is nearer the front of the bee house.
4. Mason bees need a few consecutive days of ~55 ℉ to think it's time to emerge. The males come out first and live for only a few weeks. Then, maybe a week later, the females emerge and mate with the males. The bees need flowering plants and pollen to feed and develop. If they emerge too soon in the spring and there is a late cold snap it would kill them. Too late and the blooms may already be gone and they would starve. So aim for late March or the beginning of April to put them out.
5. Besides food (flowering dandelions, cherry, plum & maple trees, etc.) they also need water and mud nearby (within 100 yards). The mud should have a high clay content because mason bees require claylike mud to seal their chambers. A vertical surface of a muddy area offers the best selection for bees to find the right consistency. At home, you can create such a mud source with cheap kitty litter by mixing the contents with water until it reaches a clay-like consistency. Place it in an area near your mason bee habitat and slice down into the mud with a shovel or spade to create a vertical surface for the bees to mine their mud. It's important to keep it moist.
Regarding the boxes and tubes that we are leaving with you:
6. We will be collecting the hexagonal wooden boxes with tubes and the emergence tube in July. Please DO NOT empty the emergence tube as we would like to see how many bees were viable. Also, do not remove or jostle the tubes in the box or you may dislodge the eggs from their pollen bed.
7. When the tubes are filled or you don't see any more activity for a while please remove the box (with tubes) to a cool, dry place such as your garage to better protect them from mice, birds, wasps, mites, mold and chalkbrood fungus.
8. If you take one of the black wooden boxes with the paper tubes you are welcome to keep it for starting your own bee hatching program. We can help in harvesting and cleaning your bees in the fall, ...OR we can take everything off your hands if you wish.
9. Please give us a call if you have ANY questions or uncertainty as we want to make sure you and the bees succeed. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit our budding web site at http://sandhbees.webhop.biz for additional information.