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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    40

    Default Loose cocoon vs. whole (inspected) tube management - which do you do?

    What experience have you folks had with loose cocoon vs whole tube management?

    In both cases, the pre-condition for my question is that both methods involve inspection to remove or control parasites. The tube I used last year were either pre-slit (so you could peek inside) or rolled parchment (so you could unroll and re-roll.) I did not keep any sealed tubes that I was unable to inspect.

    For the tubes that had any parasites in them (mostly mites) I scraped them out, cleaned them, and kept them as loose cocoons. This was about 90% of the tubes. For tubes that were completely parasite free (about 10%) I kept them as whole tubes. They're are all roughly 6" paper tubes of slightly varying diameter.

    I read in the SARE "How to manage the Blue Orchard Bee" guide that bees who chew their way out of their natal tubes have much lower pre-nesting dispersal. Up to 80% of them stay and nest. (see page 46 of the guide here: http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/...ue-Orchard-Bee) They also say that loose cocoons have much higher (50%) dispersal. That makes a heck of a difference when you are trying to build your population year over year.

    What has happened so far?
    1. Loose cocoons emerged as planned.

    2. Whole tubes showed activity MUCH later than the loose cocoons--almost two weeks later. When I inspected them, I found very frequently that the first male had emerged and escaped the tube, but many other bees had emerged and were still stuck in the tubes. As soon as I pried them open, they flew out immediately. They seemed simply unable to get out---five bees in a row would appear emerged, but trapped in place

    With our record-cold and record-rainy weather in Seattle, I have a very high dispersal rate (75%) --even more than last year. With my multiple houses located within 50 feet of each other, it's impossible to determine which bees stayed vs which bees dispersed.

    For people who inspect their cocoons, which do you use and what's your experience with minimizing dispersal?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    White Rock, BC, Canada
    Posts
    30

    Default Re: Loose cocoon vs. whole (inspected) tube management - which do you do?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleite View Post
    With our record-cold and record-rainy weather in Seattle, I have a very high dispersal rate (75%) --even more than last year. With my multiple houses located within 50 feet of each other, it's impossible to determine which bees stayed vs which bees dispersed.

    For people who inspect their cocoons, which do you use and what's your experience with minimizing dispersal?
    I have only been keeping Mason's now for three seasons... But I think the high dispersal youbsaw this year might be related to the cold, wet, lousy, late, Spring. Which we have experienced here as well. I don't know my full dispersal rate yet this year as I still have 15% of my bees that haven't emerged yet (already 4 weeks behind last year). But I've seen very low activity, again probably the weather, and only a single filled tube thus far.

    In all three years I've done loose cocoon management with good success rates. The first year the population grew 4.5X, and the second year 2.5X (probably could of had more, but under estimated how many tubes I'd need). This year with the Spring the way it is I worry about the population, but hopefully it's just slow like the spring and weather and the bees will take off soon.

    One trick I heard somewhere to reduce dispersal is to let the bees know other bees are in the area using the tubes too. Sounds a little gross but they basically used water and a paintbrush to collect the bees emergence poop and then painted it around the tubes in the block whrere they wanted them to live. If this year is a bust I might give it a try next year, but I'm convinced weather is the larger factor still.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Bucksport, Maine
    Posts
    177

    Default Re: Loose cocoon vs. whole (inspected) tube management - which do you do?

    I just pull the tubes and put them in a release box and let nature take its course. I figure 1 tube fills three on average but that may be augmented with the natural population. It seems that if I have 15 tubes in the release box then 50 holes will get filled. I have an odd idea that really isn’t any nastier than the poop painting. At the end of the season (now) I am keeping my spent tubes for the pheromones that are impregnated in the paper. Next year in new unused blocks I’ll reuse the dirty paper in some of the holes to create that come hither smell that the ladies love so much! This isn’t as clean as replacing each year but used one extra year may not hurt much and you gain the extra nesters. I am a firm believer that unlined nest tubes must be cleaned each year or you are going to be breeding the nasties. I just burned 2 nest block this season.
    Dave - PM me if you are interested in natural beekeeping in Hancock County Maine.
    http://www.davesbees.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: Loose cocoon vs. whole (inspected) tube management - which do you do?

    Dave,

    It would be interesting to do an experiment with side-by-side identical houses. One house would contain just an emergence box, and the other house would contain all the attractants you can come up with.

    Hypothesis: Nesting rates are better in the house with the pheromone lures.
    What's the data show? :-)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Bucksport, Maine
    Posts
    177

    Default Re: Loose cocoon vs. whole (inspected) tube management - which do you do?

    OK,
    Next spring I could perhaps do 2 different tests. One with 2 blocks and a release box in the middle and the other could be at a friend’s house with 2 blocks and no seed bees to see what happens. I may have spent cocoons enough to incorporate them in the tests as well; sorry no poop.
    Dave - PM me if you are interested in natural beekeeping in Hancock County Maine.
    http://www.davesbees.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Woodinville, Washington
    Posts
    35

    Default Re: Loose cocoon vs. whole (inspected) tube management - which do you do?

    A recently published paper by the ARS/Logan Bee lab says that there is no difference between loose cocoon and left in straw management.

    The study, fairly indepth, had the loose cocoons placed in a tumbler for 5 minutes at one point prior to release, and then again just before placement into the nesting box for 5 minutes.

    Loose cocoon, though an extra step of harvesting in the process (see our website http://www.crownbees.com/home-gardner/harvesting), has the pests seperated out which helps you achieve better production in the spring. (few pollen mites, etc.)

    Dave

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