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1Tips on How to Use Bee Bowls to Collect Bees Sam Droege The Bowl Bee Bowls are small colored plastic bowls or cups that are filled with soapy water. Bees are attracted to these colors, fly into the water, and drown. Bee bowling has evolved toward the use of smaller and smaller bowl sizes as it was realized that size of bowl was not necessarily correlated with capture rates (see http://online.sfsu.edu/~beeplot/ for several reports that document those results). Currently, we are no longer using bowls at all but items that are listed in plastic manufacturer’s catalogs as soufflé cups. We are not aware of other manufacturer’s lines, but Solo has a large selection of soufflé cups that we have experimented with. These cups usually come in their native translucent plastic color which is not at all attractive to bees. However the 3.25 oz. cup, which is steep sided and stable on the ground, does come in white (model number: p325w-0001) and appears to provide a better color base than the translucent ones. The 0.75 oz. and perhaps the 2 oz. cups are nice sizes to carry around, but appear to lose too much water in hot, low humidity areas. The 1 oz. cups are more steep-sided and narrow (and therefore more unstable). This model may be worth investigating for use in desert areas. Small cups have the advantages of using much less water, being hard for the general public to see (but not apparently bees), and very cheap. These cups usually need to be ordered or picked up from a local distributor and are almost always available only in case lots (usually that means about 2500 cups). Solo distributors can be located by calling 1-800-FOR-CUPS. The solo product line catalog is online and can be viewed at: www.solocups.com. The price for a case is usually in the $50 to $80 buck line. Painting Bowls Originally, when bowls rather than soufflé cups were being used, colored plastic bowls from party stores or other sources were used to capture bees. The usual colors were yellow, white, light blue, and dark blue. Those worked well, but fluorescent yellow and fluorescent blue were found to be much more effective in the East. However, Laurence Packer has found that cactus bees, especially Macrotera, seem to be attracted to dark blue and even red colored bowls. He didn't compare these with fluorescent colors, but both those colors collected more M. texana than did either white or yellow. Unfortunately it was found that commercially available fluorescent spray and brush paints varied in their characteristics and availability by brand and location. In 2003 we experimented with creating a standardized fluorescent yellow and blue paint from scratch and have done so with the help of the Risk Reactor Company (800-803-5281) (Link to2specific pages for bee colors will go here) who can be contacted both for price and ordering information as well as a complete spec sheets that list this paint’s components . The current formulation has an acrylic base (water-based). In 2004 we are working on adding surfactants to the base to see if we get better adhesion to the plastic bowls and cups. Most paint does not stick well to plastic. Many commercial can spray paints have added compounds that do help with adhesion, but as with most commercial paints those formulations are proprietary. Additionally, if many bowls are being painted, a can of spray paint becomes both expensive and wasteful. We also found using liquid paint in compressed air spray guns to not be worth the cost and trouble. The paint inevitably clogged the sprayer (even when thinned) and it was difficult to coat all the sides and bottom uniformly. After much experimentation it was found that an oil-based primer needed to be painted on first before anything but the commercial spray can paints would stick to plastic bowls. We found that white primer looks the best as a base for fluorescent yellow and a gray primer (any good paint shop will tint your primer for free) works best for the fluorescent blue. However, even these primers often will bead up to some extent. Sanding the bowls also allows paint to stick, but takes too much time. We hope to have this more under control soon following our experiments with surfactants. Using a brush to put on primer worked adequately for bowls, but not so well for cups. Two other techniques seemed to be faster and more complete. One technique was to don latex gloves and dip a bit of rag in the paint and rub it all over the cup or bowl. The other technique was to use a very small foam roller of the type often used in edging to apply the paint. This, in particular, worked well for applying the final coat of fluorescent paint. However, neither of these techniques seemed to consistently produce a particularly pretty paint job, usually there would be places remaining where the paint would not stick. So, if anyone comes up with a better means of painting these bowls we would love to hear about it. In 2003 we completed a series of small experiments that indicated that the amount of surface area painted did influence the number of bees captured. When bowls were placed next to each other the bowl with the more paint caught more bees. This may affect may disappear if bowls were spaced apart. How to Set a Bowl Trap A bowl trap is set when it is filled with soapy water and left outside. The soap decreases the surface tension so that even small insects are trapped if they land on the surface. Most insects stop moving within 60 seconds of hitting the water. However, we have found that many of these insects will wake back up if not either placed in alcohol for several hours or put in the freezer prior to pinning. We have noted that unpinned insects that do wake back up never regain normal behavior and usually simply stand or move very slowly following being in the trap. Experiments have found that as long as there is water in the bowl or cup it will catch bees at about the same rate as one that is full to the top. However, in hot and arid climates bowls can dry out if not filled to the top or if they are too shallow. Currently we advocate3that people use either Blue Dawn Dishwashing soap or laboratory detergent. Lemon-scented detergents and ammonia appear to have decreased catch compared to these soaps. Laundry soaps have been tried and do work, but contain so many other fragrance chemicals that we fear that changes in formulation could easily change the catch. We have found


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