Cocoon Testing Center

The Canadian Cocoon Testing Center (CCTC) located in Brooks, Alberta, is the national testing centre for alfalfa leafcutter bee cocoons.  The CCTC is operated under governance of the Canadian Leafcutter Bee Council which is run by alfalfa leafcutter bee organizations in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. The CCTC receives leafcutter bee cocoon samples from producers across the prairie provinces and uses x-ray imaging to identify live and dead counts, disease prevalence (Chalkbrood and A. larvis), machine and pest damage, and parasitism levels (by Pteromalus venustus). Sex ratios can also be completed using the in house leafcutter bee incubator and takes approximately 6-8 weeks to complete.

Canadian Cocoon Testing Centre
Medicine Hat College(Brooks Campus)
200 Horticultural Station Road East
Room 197    
Brooks, AB T1R 1E5
Telephone: 403-362-0453

Operational Information for 2023-2024


Nov 27, 2023- April 12, 2024 (Christmas closing to be determined)

Mon-Thurs: 9:00am – 3:00pm

Friday: 9:00am – 12:00pm

*Hours are subject to change based on number of samples received and we encourage you to call ahead of dropping of samples in person

Available Services:

X-Ray Analysis: Live count, parasites, machine damage, chalkbrood, etc. 

Cost: 95.24 + 4.76 (GST) = $100.00


Sex Ratio: Includes an x-ray analysis and female count. Please allow 6-8 weeks for completion. Samples must be sent in by March 15/24. 

Cost: $166.66+ $8.34 (GST) = $175.00

Sample Bags are available to all producers (free of charge), please email and we can send them out or arrange a pickup time.

Sample Procedure:

Fill the Cocoon Testing lab sample bags to “Fill Line” (about 2 cups) with a well-mixed batch of bees.

Write on the sample bag the type of testing to be done (X-Ray or Sex Ratio).

Samples requiring sex ratios must be received before March 15/24.

Results will be sent by email, unless otherwise requested or email is unavailable.

Please include payment (cheque only) with samples, as well as your phone number, email address and reference numbers on the bag. Cheques can be made out to: Canadian Leafcutter Bee Council


The CCTC will have a drop box available inside the main entrance to the college for convenient after hours drop off. We strongly encourage you call and book your testing ahead of dropping off samples to ensure timely turn around. Mailed samples are received as usual to the college and we are not responsible for damage or loss of samples by mail service.

*Please note* 

Samples will not be processed until payment is received.

Megan Wiebe


Jane Kopec

Tech Lab Tech

2024 Test Results

The Cocoon lab had a successful 2023/2024 season. With staff training taking place during the beginning of the season the lab started out slower than past years. The addition of an abnormally wet year for bee samples led to a lower intake in the first half of the season. However, as bees dried there was a significant increase in samples. The final sample number of samples received for this season was 511. This included 73 sex ratios.

This year’s main challenge was machine damage early in the season. Once bees dried in the later part of the season machine damage lessened significantly. Below are the Alberta numbers for samples for 2023/2024.