837Re: [beemonitoring] collecting pollen from bees
- Nov 11, 2009
Sounds like a good technique...You mentioned in another email some marking techniques for providing individual marks but I wonder if you have a quick marking technique so that you know that a particular bee was sampled but isn't time consuming in a way that putting individually identifiable marks would be. So, I am thinking...what about using a permanent marker pen and putting a dot on a forewing?.....any notions?
From Field Work
Not the mud slick,
not the black weedy water
full of alder cones and pock-marked leaves.
Not the cow parsley in winter
with its old whitened shins and wrists, its sibilance, its shaking.
Not even the tart green shade of summer thick with butterflies
and fungus plump as a leather saddle.
No. But in a still corner,
braced to its pebble-dashed wall,
heavy, earth-drawn, all mouth and eye,
the sunflower, dreaming umber.
From: Doug Yanega <dyanega@...> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 11/10/2009 01:04 PM Subject: Re: [beemonitoring] collecting pollen from bees Sent by: email@example.com
OOH! OOH! OOH!
(geeky kid in the back practically jumping out of his chair, waving
his hand frantically for attention)
I have the best technique EVER for collecting pollen samples from
bees. Really. And it doesn't even hurt the bees - you can let them go
after the sample is taken (this was essential for me, as I used this
technique for my thesis research, and I wanted to track how
individual bees changed their pollen selection habits from day to
It could hardly be simpler: it only requires a roll of Scotch Magic
Transparent Tape (the kind that's clear with a matte finish), a
pencil, and a box of microscope slides.
You net the bee, remove her carefully, rub a small piece of tape
against her belly until it picks up a smear of pollen, then you can
let her go. As long as the piece of tape has pollen-free areas on
either side of the pollen smear, you can simply stick it on the
slide, and write directly on the tape with the pencil (indicating
what bee it was, the time of day, and the locality/date). If you
apply the pieces perpendicular to the long axis of the slide, you can
fit up to 5 samples on a single slide. If a piece of tape sticks off
the edge of the slide slightly, running a second slide along the edge
slices off the excess flush with the edge.
The ONLY trick to this (aside from not getting stung) is that one
should not apply pressure directly to the portion of tape that has
the pollen smear - it can crush and distort the grains. I wrote my
data really small, and only at the ends of the pieces of tape where
there was no pollen. I could gather dozens of samples a day this way,
sometimes taking three or four samples from the same bee over the
course of a day; the whole thing from net to slide takes about 30
seconds once you're practiced at handling the bees without getting
stung. I suppose one might try to position a bee within the net so
the pollen grains can pass through the net mesh, to reduce the risk
of stinging - but then one must have a very clean net bag so there is
no chance of accidentally picking up residual pollen, and I doubt
This gives one a nice pollen sample to work with, with data written
right there, and the pollen can either be examined directly by
flipping the slide over, or - if one feels compelled to use
traditional pollen-preparation techniques - small pieces of tape
bearing pollen can be excised with an exacto-knife for processing
(though this gives very small actual numbers of grains, so one's
processing techniques have to be capable of working on tiny samples).
I did this in 1983-6, and my slides are all still viable. The color
of the pollen has faded somewhat, but other than that, they're pretty
much unchanged. What I was able to do was wander around and take
pollen samples directly from the anthers of the flowering plants in
the vicinity, and then simply match the bee samples against the known
pollen reference slides. I was able to determine that the bulk of
pollen being collected was from flowering trees.
That's it. No vials, no chemicals, no dead bees.
If you use the technique and like it, just thank me in your
Doug Yanega Dept. of Entomology Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314 skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
"There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
- << Previous post in topic Next post in topic >>