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A comment on this blog asked for more pictures on candling cocoons.
Just today I candled 4000 cocoons. It seems like an awful lot, but when they are in petri dishes it is easy to do candle them- about 30 mins or so. I did see some duds that are of some interest. I call anything that is not a fully developed bee a ‘dud’. The percent ‘duds’ in this batch was 2.5%. Anything under 5% is excellent. But even with 107 duds there are some interesting ones. Few had fully developed parasitic wasps- ready to emerge in spring. Others were bee larvae that had not completed development into an adult. In the next day or so I will take some photos and put them on this blog.
I was teaching a group of people about candling the other day. It is a straight forward procedure but the conditions have to be right. The room that you do the candling in has to be completely dark- a bathroom without a window for example. Any extra light besides the flashlight is too much light and you cannot candle the cocoons.
Frank mentioned removing mites with a ‘large stainless steel colander’. The best colander is not just any colander. More about this later, but first, lets back up a little and I will explain my rationale for removing mites.
Getting rid or removing ALL mites from cocoons is difficult. I think the main aim is to remove the majority of mites, so that mason bees have a better chance of producing healthy offspring. Even if all mites are removed from harvested cocoons, there will be the occasional mite covered wild bee that arrives from within the local wood. These mites are spread successfully ensuring mites are always around. The best that anyone can do is to remove the majority of mites from harvested cocoons. This give mason bees a better chance in producing healthy offspring rather then mites.
Washing with water, removes adhering frass and the majority of loose mites. After washing, there are still lots of mites in amongst the threads of the cocoon.
These mites are best removed by friction. I have found the most successful way to remove these mites is to gently roll them over a METAL window screen stapled to a frame. Another way is to gently roll them around colander with a metal screen (NOT PLASTIC, NOT STAINLESS). Plastic and stainless steel do not have the abrasive quality of metal screen.
This can be done in two stages. First wash with the appropriate colander under and in running water. Second, when cocoons are dry, roll them over another screen to get the remaining mites off.
Beediverse Products are at the show! We are at Booth 2352. Jim Tunnell owner of Beez Neez has all our products! Come and say hello. You will recognize them with our new T-shirts! I love mason bees! All products shown below are available at this years show- including cardboard nesting tubes, and Quicklock nesting trays. Have a great time at the show.
|You will recognize Jim’s staff
with this great T-shirt.
|The beautiful Royal Bee home|
|Viewing box for seeing bees at work!|
|Our largest mason bee home ‘Highrise’|
|Chalet with predator guard|
|Natural Nesting Reeds-|
Washing with water, removes all frass and most mites. The removal of frass is an important part of the cleaning process because it allows cocoons to be candled. Successful candling can only be done with clean cocoons. I want to make sure that cocoons parasitized with little wasps don’t end up in the cocoons that I sell or place out for production.
Here is Frank’s third photo.