The right way to Harvest Wild Bee Cocoons (Solitary Bees)


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Whereas honeybees are recognized for his or her honey manufacturing, wild bees are finest acknowledged for his or her very important participation in pollination. Wild bees are likely to reside in cavities present in hole timber or flowers, partitions or underground. On this article, we’ll talk about methods to harvest wild bee cocoons.

About Wild Bees

Wild bees observe the queen system the place the queen is on the prime of the hierarchy. In addition they reside in massive hives product of wax honeycomb. Another fundamental info about wild bees embrace:

  • They don’t sting until they really feel threatened
  • There are over 5,000 wild bee species on this planet.
  • Virtually 50% of untamed bees are categorized as pollen specialists
  • Throughout hibernation, the bees kind cocoons the place they continue to be till the next summer season season.

These cocoons nonetheless are compromised by pests and different bugs reminiscent of wasps and beetles which assault the cocoons and consequentially carry fungi in addition to eat the bees. For these causes, folks have adopted harvesting wild bee cocoons in order to assist them survive the tough climate and environmental circumstances. The bigger cocoons are feminine whereas the smaller ones are males. Cocoons are nonetheless very fragile and thus have to be dealt with with the utmost care whereas harvesting.

Causes to Harvest Wild Bee Cocoons

Harvest Wild Bee Cocoons

1. Safety Towards Pests, Parasites and Ailments

Some pests, parasites and illnesses that have an effect on wild bees are:

  1. Parasitic wasps – they aim creating bee larvae and can lay their eggs contained in the larva.
  2. Pollen mites – these are microscopic mites which can starve and kill the bee larva by consuming its meals reserves, that’s, the pollen loaf.
  3. Ailments – these embrace mould and different fungal infections.

Harvesting wild bee cocoons mainly helps in holding a wholesome bee inhabitants, which is significant for the survival of the ecosystem. Harvesting cocoons includes the method of eradicating and cleansing hive nests. The primary reason for cocoon harvesting is pests. Pests are likely to invade the cocoon compromising the bees and their very important work of pollination. Such pests embrace parasitic wasps that are small. They’re interested in beehives as a result of they like to put their eggs inside creating bee larvae.

They sometimes assault via the partitions of skinny nesting tubes and can reinvigorate themselves yearly. Every bee species is prone to a fungal an infection referred to as chalkbrood. What occurs is that the bees munch on the chalkbrood spores that are blended into the pollen loaf. The chalkbrood kills the bees and transforms them into larva-shaped spores, whereas the surviving bees hatch and unfold the fungi within the cocoon and on the pollen. They’re then eaten once more which impacts increasingly bees.

One other pest that has been a significant issue is pollen mites, that are microscopic bugs that eat pollen. They arrive caught to the pollen beneath the bee. If they’re sufficient in quantity, these mites eat all of the pollen earlier than the eggs can hatch and eat the pollen. As such, it’s sometimes a race to see who can eat the pollen first resulting in a scarcity of meals for bees.

Some nesting gap pests embrace:

  • Microscopic pollen mites
  • Houdini flies, that are present in most locations, from Europe to America.
  • Tunnelling worms and beetles which destroy the construction.

Typically the beetles lay eggs in cocoons which come again to put extra eggs leaving cocoons with extra beetles than bees. Beetles additionally drill via the partitions of the cocoons and eat the bees which turns right into a sport of eat or be eaten.

These pests destroy, infect or overpopulate the cocoon leaving the bees both useless or homeless, thus compromising the pure stability required to make sure the steadiness of the ecosystem. Harvesting wild bee cocoons subsequently is necessary as you take away the cocoons when the bees are inactive and this may in flip forestall different species from nesting. One might retailer the cocoons within the storage or shed till prepared to reap.

2. Pollination

Pollination is the largest position performed by wild bees and is crucial position of any bee. It is because it facilitates the spreading and survival of crops which we depend on for meals.

Bees carry pollen from one place to a different diversifying the expansion of crops in several areas and making certain they don’t go extinct. The survival of the plant ecosystem closely depends upon the survival of those bees and the service they supply. Wild bees nonetheless are discovering it exhausting to outlive on this planet and thus it’s necessary we assist. So, it’s, subsequently, mandatory to make sure their survival by taking good care of them throughout their hibernation via harvesting.

3. Silk Manufacturing

Cocoons even have a number of industrial makes use of such because the manufacturing of silk. Silk is a cloth principally used within the making of clothes supplies. Although worms and moths have been recognized to be the principle sources of silk, silk from bees has been discovered to be harder. The cocoon has a selected construction that differentiates it with massive buildings of proteins as in comparison with spiders and moths. It’s organized in a manner the place the cocoon twirls with one another offering light-weight however powerful silk.

The method of remodeling cocoons to silk is nonetheless very delicate and lengthy. The unhealthy or broken silk needs to be separated from the nice silk earlier than processing, and for good work, the silk needs to be dealt with manually. Silk can be utilized to make many merchandise from clothes, curtains, sneakers and even ending’s on furnishings. In brief, if you would like extra bees which results in extra cocoons, you will have to reap.

Steps to Harvest Wild Bee Cocoons

Harvest Wild Bee Cocoons

It is very important harvest wild bee cocoons. Once we speak about harvesting wild bee cocoons, it doesn’t imply honey harvesting, as wild bees serve different functions apart from honey. The solitary bees are used primarily for pollination functions, which is a extra necessary job. In truth, wild bees are far more environment friendly on the subject of pollination than honey bees. This species of bee is simple to maintain and extra unstable in comparison with different species.

What you need to count on to see in a wild bee cocoon: 

  • Wild bee cocoons or wasp cocoons.
  • Pollen loaves and bee frass.
  • Nesting chambers with protecting partitions.
  • Open, thick and capped ends.
  • Empty cocoons.
  • Meal moths and small beetles.

Uncovered Larvae

The presence of an enormous or flabby larva fully occupying the nesting chamber could possibly be a wild bee or helpful wasp, in want of extra time to develop. In case you can, shut the nesting gap and retailer intact nesting holes in a really helpful cocoon bag in your unheated storage or shed. Look ahead to emerged grownup bees and launch the remainder of the intact nesting holes in your bee home.

Instruments Required

  • Scissors
  • Stiff wire brush. You may also use an outdated toothbrush.
  • Cocoon guard bag
  • Phillips-head screwdriver for cocoon elimination. You may also use a popsicle stick.

Setup a Workspace

  1. You will have a cool room for holding the wild bees in hibernation (strive opening a window) and a newspaper or a pan for catching cocoons and particles. 
  2. Gauge Stick: discover out if the pure reeds/bee tubes are partially stuffed. You should use a skinny stick or bamboo skewer to make a gauge. Measure and mark the stick in step with the size of the nesting tube. You’ll be able to then insert the stick into the nesting gap.
  3. The primary expectation could be the mark protruding. If that occurs then there exists a stuffed nesting chamber throughout the cocoon. Conversely, if that doesn’t occur then it means the nesting gap is empty. This may be utilized the next spring and summer season.

There are a few totally different nesting types and nesting supplies every with a special manner of harvesting. These embrace:

Harvest Wild Bee Cocoons From Bamboo

Bamboo is a huge woody grass which is especially grown within the tropics. They’re fast-growing perennials with some reaching as much as 30cm (1 foot). Bees choose to construct cocoons in bamboo due to their seen measurement. Bamboo is basically used as nesting tubes as they’re cheaper. To reap wild bee cocoons, it’s essential to do it when the bees are totally fashioned.


  1. Use a robust sharp object to open it up by slicing it in half, straight via the center. At this level, a whole lot of the cocoons are compromised as they may break or get broken. Some wild bees hibernate as larvae they usually want heat temperatures to turn into grownup bees; that is referred to as incubation. Every species has its personal set of cues that wake them up and inform them when to emerge.
  2. Gently take away the cocoons and put them in a bucket or bowl of chilly water the place you possibly can rinse your cocoons.
  3. Add a tablespoon of bleach, (per gallon per water) to have a really dilute bleach answer that takes care of any fungal illnesses or something that may have constructed up in your cocoon.
  4. Then lay the cocoons on a few paper towels or material the place you possibly can lay up your cocoons to dry. Use any kind of storage container lined with a paper towel and drill holes within the lid to permit air flow. You might sprinkle some water on the paper towel for slight moisturization.

Disadvantages of Bamboo

Although bamboo is affordable and simply accessible, it isn’t the most suitable choice as it’s straightforward for pests to maneuver out and in as there are a whole lot of holes and chambers which are compromising the cocoon. The bamboo additionally by no means dries out; thus, they permit the expansion of mould. It has been thought-about a big reason for pollen decline. The opposite draw back to utilizing bamboo is that it’s a robust materials which makes it exhausting to open with out utilizing pressure thus exhausting to get the cocoons out whereas nonetheless intact. Thus, easier-to-open options reminiscent of sunflower, wild rose, sumac or cup plant ought to be thought-about, simply make sure you seal off one finish of the reeds to keep away from pests from coming into. You might use clay or mud which is a pure substance that works as an appropriate tube sealant.

Harvest Wild Bee Cocoons From Pure Reeds

The feminine bee will select a reed and lays eggs in every. Every reed comes with a sealed finish principally with mud. Pure reeds are preferable for bee cocoons as they are often simply sealed and are simpler to open, clear and take away contents with little or no drawback.


  1. Crack and open up the reed, in the event you discover this slightly bit powerful you possibly can make use of the usage of a knife however whereas taking additional care or it’s possible you’ll use a cocoon comb to open them up, that is safer.
  2. Take away all of the cocoons and place them in a basin or bucket.
  3. Now place the cocoons in a bowl or dish with cool water, and clear them. The cocoons at the moment are dried and could also be saved in a single day in a fanned room to make sure that they’re fully freed from moisture.
  4. As soon as dried, they are often taken to the workstation to be checked.

Any cocoon that enables gentle to move via doesn’t comprise a viable bee. The bees can then be saved in winter storage the place humidity ranges are measured to make sure the cocoon doesn’t mould or dry out. This bee will stay dormant till they’re despatched out again to farms the place the cycle continues. Bear in mind to make use of containers with a layer of two or three cocoons thick. Greater than that can lead to extra mound development within the container.

Harvest Wild Bee Cocoons From Cardboard

Cardboards are the simplest to make use of as one merely finds the sting the place it begins on a paper towel after which use your nail to peel it again, or your thumb to roll it slowly open. You may also use a nail clipper to get issues going. The cocoons will fall off. Make sure you place a paper towel beneath to catch the cocoons. The method to scrub and retailer is mainly the identical.

Harvest Wild Bee Cocoons From Wooden Trays

For a seasoned wood tray, you’ll discover it outdated, and soiled however good smelling and that is how that it’s ripe for harvesting. Wooden trays are finest for a bulk load of bees as they’ll carry a whole lot of cocoons. They’re additionally most popular as one can reuse them and are thus price-effective.

Wood trays or as others name them, nesting trays, are made by drilling holes into wood blocks. They’re additionally thought-about fairly straightforward to reap from as they’re principally held collectively by rubber bands and might be pried open. You’ll be able to then merely scrape the cocoons onto a material or paper towel utilizing a cocoon comb and brush. One may additionally use a screwdriver to slowly push the cocoons onto the paper. Bear in mind to isolate chalkbrood and some other pest-infested tray for correct care. Additionally, examine for pollen mites, they’re yellow in shade and easily eat all of the pollen-starving bees. Tunnelling worms are additionally an enormous drawback which needs to be famous and handled.

Clear out the extreme particles and hand-pick all soiled or spilt cocoons. Separate out all of the cocoons that didn’t mature appropriately or disease-looking cocoons. The cocoons could also be lined by some kind of brown, cylinder-like particles which is completely regular and nothing to be nervous about. Remember to take away any cocoon with pin holes or chewing of any fungi to stop the spreading of any illnesses or pests.

Soak the cocoons in bleach water and clear completely. Take away the cocoons and rinse them to take away any residual bleach. Permit the cocoons to air dry after which later retailer them in a cool dry place because it waits for the summer season season. You might also wish to wash the trays as they could even be reused. Whereas bees are in cocoons, they survive on saved fat which they metabolize all through the winter.

Cleansing Wild Bee Cocoons

How to Harvest Wild Bee Cocoons

The cleansing technique of the cocoons is comparable although out. Pests, parasites and fungi are the principle issues it’s good to look out for to stop any future issues. For many who would care to begin wild bee cocoon harvesting, you would possibly wish to take into account probably the most cost-effective technique so that you can forestall main losses. One may additionally take into account the simplest and time efficient technique to stop wastage and tiresome work.

Be certain that the water is chilly. Bleach the water with a bleaching agent. Place the cocoons inside and guarantee they’re fully immersed within the water. Clear completely, it’s possible you’ll even gently use a hose to make sure it’s spotless, however not for too lengthy in order to not compromise the cocoon. Lay the cocoons on a clear floor and dry them beneath a lightweight or exterior. As soon as fully dry, it’s possible you’ll put them in a ventilated container and retailer them in a cool dry place.

The feminine cocoons are usually behind the tube whereas the male cocoons are on the entrance. That is just because the males are extra expendable within the bee world. Males are additionally the primary ones to emerge within the spring, to allow them to find females as quickly as they emerge. If there’s a gap in a cocoon, it’s most likely from a predatory insect like a wasp. Some wasps, beetles and different critters use the protection of the nests to elevate their very own younger. This leads to pollen mites and chalkbroods which kill the bees. In case you discover this challenge you wish to ensure you take away the affected cocoons and completely clear the surviving ones. Cardboards are additionally not that environmentally cheap as they get moist simply and thus want an exterior protecting.

Including bleach isn’t obligatory however is advisable. One might merely use lukewarm water. You might also must rinse with clear water in the event you use bleach.


Naturally occurring nesting holes are unfold throughout the panorama. Nevertheless, man-made ones are typically shut collectively, thus facilitating a simple transmission of pests and illnesses. Harvesting of cocoons and avail contemporary nesting holes each season will cut back the unfold of pests and illnesses. If this isn’t executed, parasites and illnesses will kill your bees. Ailments and pollen mites are usually transmitted when wholesome transfer from contaminated nesting chambers to wholesome ones. This may be averted by harvesting the bee cocoons throughout spring and offering contemporary and clear nesting holes each season. Harvesting wild bee cocoons is simple, fast, and means that you can: Make sure the well being of your wild bee cocoons, take stock / depend of your bee inhabitants, get your self effectively acquainted together with your native native bees and their affect in your life in order to higher recognize their worth, and share additional bee cocoons with native buddies and neighbors. Within the US and on this planet at massive, measures are being taken to make sure the survival of the wild bee and others of its sort. Wild bees have been taking part in a giant position within the facilitating of farming and diversification of vegetation via the spreading of pollen and this makes them some of the necessary species alive. With out this bee most vegetation, flowers and crops would go extinct or be remoted.  Moreover, the posh of variety in vegetation would even be misplaced indefinitely. Varied analysis carried out present that the variety of wild bees had been considerably decreasing resulting in a harmful scarcity of bees within the system. That is subsequently resulting in a gradual however rising state of imbalance. To keep away from this and promote sustainable development, folks, teams and organizations have taken up the position of cocoon harvesting and care to make sure that these necessary bugs make it via their hibernation and into the approaching seasons.


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