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Willamette Valley Vineyards
April 8, 2024 | Willamette Valley Vineyards

Mason Bees Return to Willamette Valley Vineyards

When the vineyard wakes up with new growth and buds on the vines, we know it’s time to welcome back our mason bees. 

In March, Stephen Paisley, Willamette’s “Bee Guy,” and Randy Hillyer, the winery’s Facilities Coordinator, put thousands of mason bee cocoons back into bee houses at Elton Vineyard, Tualatin Estate Vineyard, Bernau Estate Vineyard and the Estate in the Salem Hills.

It was time to reintroduce the bees to the environment because mason bees begin to wake up and emerge from their cocoons when temperatures consistently reach 55 degrees Fahrenheit and above. 

Mason bees do incredibly well at Elton Vineyard due to the surrounding garden.

In November, Stephen and Randy cleaned the bee cocoons, which were then stored in a refrigerator. Cleaning the cocoons and bee box trays is an important part of maintaining mason bee populations because it removes pests, mold, pollen, wasps, and other materials from the trays and provides the bees with a clean and safe place to live and lay eggs. 

Now that the cocoons are back in the bee houses, the bees will start to wake up. Thankfully, a little wet weather won’t prevent these efficient pollinators from doing what they do best.

“They’re true Oregonians,” Stephen said. “Unlike honey bees, they work in the rain.”

Sustainable Stewardship

Stephen Paisley displays a mason bee cocoon.

Managing mason bees is one way Willamette encourages stewardship of the land. Our vines are self-pollinating, so the bees don’t directly impact our crop. However, mason bees are extremely efficient pollinators, making them crucial to farms and gardens everywhere.

Guests who want to see the mason bees in action will have the perfect opportunity this month at our Estate in the Salem Hills or at Domaine Willamette in the Dundee Hills. 

Celebrate Earth Day with Stephen at the Estate on Saturday, April 20th or Sunday, April 21st for a Mason Bee Tour & Tasting that includes a tasting of select wines and a honey-themed cheese plate.

The Oregon Bee Project will lead a Mason Bees in the Garden Tour & Tasting through our biodynamic garden at Domaine Willamette on Saturday, April 27th. You’ll enjoy a flight of four wines paired with small bites.



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Founded in 1983 by Oregon native Jim Bernau with the dream of creating world-class Pinot Noir,
Willamette Valley Vineyards has grown from a bold idea into one of the region’s leading wineries, earning the title “One of America’s Great Pinot Noir Producers” from Wine Enthusiast Magazine


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