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840Re: Re: [beemonitoring] collecting pollen from bees

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  • Jack Neff
    Nov 11, 2009
      Sam:  I also have marked many bees of varying sizes with fast drying enamels and paint pens. I found it easier said than done. Being a clutz, I regularly painted the wing bases with the results Doug mentioned.  Chilling the bees in a cooler slows them down and makes them easier to mark.  I also had a problem with fading with paint pens so that the lighter colors became indistinguishable after a few weeks.  The "Techniques for Pollination Biologists" book by Kearns and Inouye has 11 pages on marking insects, although much of that ground has already been by other discussants.



      John L. Neff
      Central Texas Melittological Institute
      7307 Running Rope
      Austin,TX 78731 USA

      --- On Wed, 11/11/09, Anita M Collins, Ph.D. <frozenbeedoc@...> wrote:

      From: Anita M Collins, Ph.D. <frozenbeedoc@...>
      Subject: Re: Re: [beemonitoring] collecting pollen from bees
      To: sdroege@...
      Cc: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Wednesday, November 11, 2009, 9:52 AM


      WE have successfully used the paint pens that are now available to mark bees when a quick mark,say just the color, is needed.  Seems to stay on enough for some weeks that we can release newly emerged drones and catch them at sexual maturity. 
      If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research.
      -Albert Einstein

      Nov 11, 2009 06:20:51 AM, sdroege@usgs. gov wrote:


      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.
      -Seamus Heaney

      From:Doug Yanega <dyanega@ucr. edu>
      To:beemonitoring@ yahoogroups. com
      Date:11/10/2009 01:04 PM
      Subject:Re: [beemonitoring] collecting pollen from bees
      Sent by:beemonitoring@ yahoogroups. 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
      that's practical.

      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
      acknowledgements. ;-)


      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)
      http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/ yanega.html
      "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
      is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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