I harvested almost 500 cocoons last fall and put them out mid-March, right before I left for Hawaii for two week. Today, most of them have hatched and are busy collecting pollen and laying eggs in the tubes. I hope I don’t run out of tubes! I love this time of year when everything is in bloom and watching my bees!
I just spent the past 2 1/2 hours harvesting about 2/3 of the cocoons from the nesting tubes, washing away the dirt and letting the cocoons sit in a bath of (weak) bleach water. I’m happy to report that I saw no parasites this year and no evidence of mites (it there had been mites, I would have seen orange or red spots on the paper towel where the cocoons are drying). Once the cocoons are dry, I will be putting them in the special humidifier box I bought from Crown Bees and storing them in the refrigerator until spring. I will finish harvesting the rest of the cocoons later this week.
I still have about a dozen bees working away and filling tubes. Since all the tubes were filled in the first bee house, I went ahead and placed them in a mesh bag so parasites can’t get to them. I also bought a new bee house for the nesting block (which is 75% filled). I’m going to have at least a 1,000 cocoons this year and will be giving at least half of them to Crown Bees. They will then place them in orchards in eastern Washington, helping the farmers with their fruit trees.