Honey Bee Dissection – Bee Vlog #166 – Apr 4, 2015


Hey everybody I’m here with my buddy Tim We’re heading down to Corvallis for visiting the bee lab at Oregon State University Because we’re going to be taking a class on dissecting bees and learning about various viruses or diseases that can affect bees that you would usually get diagnosed in a bee lab So we’re going to be playing around with microscopes and hopefully I’m going to be taking some pictures of some of the things I’m dissecting and observing in the microscope So if that works it will show up on video Welcome to the dissecting portion of this video On the Gore Scale, this video ranks “Some Guts” If that bothers you, now would be a good time to go watch a cat video instead Here is a honey bee If you aren’t familiar with the anatomy I’ll point out the major body parts There are 3 body segments The head, thorax, and abdomen They have hair all over their body that serves an important function in gather pollen They have 6 legs and 4 wings: 2 on each side Here is a front leg This is the foot and this part attaches to the body The pin in this photo is pointing out the antenna cleaning feature Here is a back leg The foot is over here and this part attaches to the body In this photo, the pin is pointing to the pollen basket When bees gather pollen they sweep it off the hairs on their body and pack it on to their back leg This single hair acts as the anchor point for the mound of pollen they pack on to that concave area of the leg Here are the wings They have 2 pairs like this The larger, front wing is shown upside-down here I couldn’t get it to stay right-side up, it kept flipping over on me So I left it as-is But the really interesting features I wanted to show are the hooks that are found on the smaller back wing These hooks allow the small wing to hook on to the larger wing during flight Now let’s go over some of the features of the head In order to do so I’m going to need to remove it Bees have 5 eyes: 2 large compound eyes on either side of the head and 3 ocelli in the center-top They also have 2 antennae, but one has fallen off on this specimen You’ll notice that the antennae are located on the front of the head, right about where our nose would be Not up on top as they are often drawn by cartoonists They have spoon-shaped jaws called mandibles that open side-to-side These are perfect for chewing and shaping wax In order to get a good look at the mouth parts, I”m going to need to pull them off They fold up under the head This is often referred to as the “tongue” but there’s much more to it than what we typically think of as a tongue Here’s an opportunity to take a closer look at the eyes Notice how the compound eyes have hair in the facets And right in the center-top of the head we can get a good look at one of the three ocelli Opening the head proved to be very challenging We were instructed to “take off the cuticle” Easier said than done It’s a little like trying to peel an uncooked egg A very small egg, with tweezers, under a microscope The reason we opened the head was to locate the hypopharyngeal gland This is the gland that produces the primary ingredient in royal jelly When doing nutritional analysis this gland is removed and tested for its protien content This is actually my 2nd attempt at dissecting the head I found it easier to do this under water Most of the debris floats off and you can see what you’re doing much better I’m still not very good at it and didn’t really know exactly what I was looking at Since everything inside the head is white, it’s also easier to work over black plastic insead of the yellow beeswax in the dish we were using The hypopharyngeal gland looks like a cluster of pearls There was a lot inside the head and I probably made a mess while doing this If you’re experienced at doing this you’re probably cringing while you watch my horrible attempt Now here you can see what is mostly hypopharyngeal All those pearls, plus some other stuff SInce my sample is not very good, let’s cheat and take a look at my neighbor’s sample She did much better at isolating the hypopharyngeal gland We also got to observe Nosema spores under the main classroom microscope but I couldn’t hook my camera up to it So I didn’t get any photos or video of that But here’s a simple field test you can do to check for a possible Nosema infection First take the head off the bee This will disconnect the digestive tract from the head and make it easier to remove Then pinch the last couple of segments of the abdomen and pull the digestive tract out You may have to hold on to the rest of the abdomen As you pull it apart you’ll see the digestive system unfold The bulging part at the top is the ventriculus, or midgut If this bee had a Nosema infection then this organ would appear whitish and swollen It’s difficult to tell the color in this photo because my white balance may be off But this is what a swollen ventriculus looks like Normally you should be able to make out individual rings This photo I found online shows a good comparison The top sample shows a normal ventriculus where you can make out the segmentation The bottom sample is swollen Now compare that again to my sample This bee may have been infected with Nosema Or I did this wrong and we’re not looking at the ventriculus, that’s certainly possible too Now here’s the part everyone is afraid of The stinger! That thing is super sharp! A few people got to dissect a queen bee and observe some of her different and unique internal organs I didn’t get to, but another neighbor let me take a look at his This egg-like structure found in the last few segments of the queen’s abdoment is the spermatheca This is the organ that stores the sperm from the drones the queen mated with during her nuptial flights She mates with a dozen or more drones and has enough sperm to last her entire life All stored up in this little, spherical organ In a virgin queen this looks transparent but is a light tan/cream color in a mated queen If you enjoyed looking at these things under the microscope, I’ve also linked in a video from last year where I used an inexpensive, hand-held digital microscope to look at Varroa mites I also put these photos up on my webpage if you want to take a closer look The link is in the show notes Thanks for watching!

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