How to shuck bee larvae

Added on by Josh Evans.

posted by Josh Evans

In our last post on experimenting with bee larvae, we mentioned the challenge of how best to separate the larvae and pupae from the wax and honey residue that clings to their bodies. It is a time-consuming and tedious task, and we have been trying to find a way to separate the bees from the chaff efficiently, cleanly, and with high accuracy.

After trying out different techniques, we realised we needed to bring in the big guns.

LN₂ at 77 K / -196˚c

LN₂ at 77 K / -196˚c

Liquid nitrogen is so far the best method we've found. We drop a handful of larvae/pupae/mature drones/wax/honey – a complicated mixture – into the LIN, where everything freezes on contact with the roiling, smoking liquid. After fishing everything out with a strainer, simply rubbing the solidified bees between the hands quickly removes all wax and honey while keeping the bees intact – leaving clean, white larvae, pupae, and drones, which are then easy to separate and store.

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Thank you science. Now we can blast through the prep and get on with the experimenting.