The Fabulous AutoBeeWasher Now Available!
I am not sure why we didn't think of this sooner, but we didn't. We now use a magnetic stir plate to wash our bees.
For those of you (like me) who didn't have these in college chem lab.... this is a device where a small metal box creates magnetic fields that causes a a magnet which you have placed in a flask, beaker, or, in my case, a coffee mug (it cleans the tea and coffee stains as you wash your bees) to spin. You can change the speed of the spin by turning a dial and you can use a variety of different magnet types as stirrers. We use an X-shaped one and I am not sure that the type would make a significant difference.
Note that things like canning jars that have convex bottoms with embossed writing on them don't work well as the magnet bounces around on the irregular surface. The autobeewasher advantages are that you can simply dump in your bees, add warm water and soap, set things spinning and then go off and do other things. It does a wonderful complete job of both removing pollen and, more importantly, getting rid of the nectar and other sludge that ends up causing the hairs to stick together. Additionally, since you are doing other things you can leave them in there for quite a while and won't be tempted to short cut the process to save time.
You can pick these things up new for about $100.00 and much less on Ebay and such places.
So below is our current procedure
1. Dump specimens from bag or vial into a tea strainer
2. Rinse with tap water
3. Dump into coffee mug
4. Add magnetic stirrer, warm water, and soap (laundry detergent works great)
5. Leave spinning at moderate speed for about 3-5 minutes
6. Dump back into strainer
7. Rinse bees and coffee mug
8. Dump bees back into coffee mug
9. Add warm water (or alcohol if you want to speed things up)
10. Dump into autobeedryer
11. Shake out loose water
12. Turn on autobeedryer
13. Leave on for about 5-10 minutes
14. Dump into unit tray
15. Let specimens dry for a couple of weeks
16. Either archive in specimens in petri dishes for later or process specimens directly...pinning only those that are special or difficult to ID
When you are dealing with many specimens, this is a great time saver.
Now if we can can just develop an autobeeidentifier.....
Your Public Servant,
Sam Droege sdroege@...
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
2 is not equal to 3 -- not even for large values of 2
P Bees are not optional.