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 thought my bees were done for the season, so I collected all the filled tubes from the houses and put them in a mesh bag. This is to prevent parasitic wasps and other pest from infiltrating the tubes.
I had no sooner sealed up the back when three of my gals came back to the bee house. They were confused since the unfilled tubes were not arranged the same way (since many filled tubes were missing, taking up less space) and buzzed around the openings, looking for their tube. I felt bad for them, but I’m confident they will figure it out or start a new tube.
I’d rather have a couple of confused bees than those nasty wasps in the tubes!