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Drying bees with compressed air (I doesn't get any better)

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  • Sam Droege
    All: I was talking with Rick Donovall from Penn State about drying bees after washing. He mentioned that he didn t usually use the heat when he blow dried
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 4, 2008


      I was talking with Rick Donovall from Penn State about drying bees after washing.  He mentioned that he didn't usually use the heat when he blow dried them.  About a month later, it was late at night and I was brushing my teeth when I realized....compressed air!  Why not use compressed air to dry bees.  I phoned the office (after I finished brushing) and left myself a message.  The past 2 days I have been exploring the use of compressed air and I think we have found the IDEAL drying technique (ok, maybe not quite ideal if you don't have any compressed air available).

      So, try this out:

      1.  Wash bees in a mason jar bee washer in the usual manner
      2.  Flick out all the free water
      (3.  I initially then put in some 95% alcohol thinking that it would speed the drying but later realized that it didn't significantly help)
      4. Turn on the compressed air in your lab (or compressor at home) to full and blast out any moisture or crud that might be in the line (you can see the moisture cloud the air stream at the exit of the nozzle when present)
      5.  Hold the mason jar (with screen on top) about 2 feet away and let the air blow off most of the free water.
      6.  Once the bees start to move around in the jar, cut the pressure down and move the jar right up to the nozzle.
      7.  Direct the air stream to the side of the jar and let it swirl the specimens around in a vortex (if the pressure is too high or they are bouncing violently around you can rip some abdomens off)
      8.  Small specimens with short hair take less than 1 minute
      9.  Bumblebees take about 2 minutes to have all the hair on their thorax fluff up

      Very sweet.  No loss of legs or antennae at all and such beautiful hair.


      Sam Droege  Sam_Droege@...                      
      w 301-497-5840 h 301-390-7759 fax 301-497-5624
      USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
      BARC-EAST, BLDG 308, RM 124 10300 Balt. Ave., Beltsville, MD  20705

      The world turns softly
      Not to spill its lakes and rivers.
      The water is held in its arms
      And the sky is held in the water.
      What is water,
      That pours silver,
      And can hold the sky?
      - Hilda Conkling – 6 years old

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