How to Wash Bee Cocoons

STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO WASH BEE COCOONS

WHY SHOULD I WASH MY BEE COCOONS?

Bee cocoons should be washed and disinfected if they have been exposed to any harmful spores. Things like chalkbrood and mold spores need to be killed to prevent contamination in next years bee supply. Chalk brood is the #1 reason to disinfect cocoons. Chalk brood is a fungus that if ingested by developing bee larva will spread inside the larva and kill the bee. The larva is basically full of chalkbrood spores. If you touch the infected larva it will crumble into a pile of spores that can easily spread to other cocoons. Cleaning the cocoons that may have come in contact with chalkbrood is an easy way to prevent future spread of the disease.

How to Disinfect Bee Cocoons

Materials: container to wash bees in, paper towels, bleach, water, measuring tools.

  1. Mix a solution of cold water and bleach. Use approximately 1 tablespoon for every cup of water.
  2. Place cocoons in solution and agitate (move around) until all areas of the cocoons have been exposed to solution. Let sit in solution occasionally agitating cocoons for up to 20 min. (Cocoons can be submerged longer but 10-20 minutes does the job without harming the bees).
  3. Remove cocoons and pat dry with paper towels. If any of the cocoons sank in the water throw them away. Sinking cocoons indicate that the bee did not form correctly and has died.
  4. Place bees in clean bee safe and store in refrigerator.
 

CLEAN AS CAN BEE!

SAND WASHING METHOD

We find that the sand washing method has less operator error. It is so easy a child could do it. (You might as well let them if they’re interested.) Cleaning with the sand will remove pollen mites and the meconium (bee poop) that is around the cocoons but DOES NOT sanitize the cocoons if exposed to chalkbrood. For that reason we recommend the sand method if pollen mites are pervasive in your bee nest. If you have both pollen mites and chalkbrood then we recommend using the water/bleach method described above.

Steps:

  1. Put cocoons in dry sand.
  2. mix around for a few minutes and remove.
  3. Place cocoons inbee safeand store in refrigerator.
 

THAT WAS EASY!