Queen Bee Artificial Insemination Microscope Buying Advise
Artificial insemination (AI) of queen bees is a growing practice worldwide.
It’s an important practice for maintaining the health and quality of your bee stock.
AI allows you to selectively breed for desirable traits such as disease resistance, docility or honey production while preventing the introduction of negative qualities such as ‘Africanization’ or aggression.
The procedure itself is very delicate, however, and you need the right equipment to ensure the greatest chances of success.
A good microscope is a critical component – the process requires a level of precision that can’t be easily achieved with the naked eye. But you can’t just make do with any old microscope.
What kind of microscope do you need?
Your best option is a Queen Bee Artificial Insemination Microscope this is suitable having a large base big enough to fit a Instrumental Insemination Station (Not Included) with its high reach pillar design enabling you to fit your insemination equipment under the optical head.
The big advantage of a stereo microscope is the depth perception it provides. Most microscopes produce a flat image, but a stereo microscope uses two separate and slightly different optical pathways to produce a 3D image.
Artificial insemination is a process that requires incredible precision, and a sense of depth provides an almost insurmountable advantage.
For delicate, hands-on work, there is no better choice than a stereo microscope.
What features does your microscope need?
Artificial insemination does not require high magnifications.
A stereo microscope with a magnification range of 7.5–45x is usually more than sufficient. Most procedures are carried out in the 10–20x range, but it can come down to personal preference.
It’s important to remember that stereo microscopes generally get most of their magnification from their eyepieces, so don’t just look at the seemingly low magnification of the objective lenses.
Stereo microscopes often come with one or 2 pre-set levels of magnification, but you should instead look for one with variable zoom.
Variable zoom lets you freely change the magnification anywhere within the magnification range.
The AI process has multiple steps and the ability to adjust the magnification to best suit the task at hand is a valuable advantage.
It also lets you adjust the settings to accommodate the preferences of the user – this can be particularly useful if there are going to be multiple users.
Good illumination is very important during any procedure. But your microscope’s lighting must not run hot and risk damaging the queen during the process.
The only practical options are LEDs or cold light fibre optics. We include the 6 Watt LED Dual Gooseneck Light Illuminator with the Queen Bee AI Microscope the Optico ASZ400.
LED lights are a common choice because they are long lasting, relatively cheap, produce even lighting and, most importantly, generate very little heat.
Insemination instruments tend to be quite bulky, and you must fit them underneath your microscope. Make sure you have enough clearance to give yourself sufficient room to work.
Instrumental Insemination Station
Working distance isn’t just the amount of space below your lens – the microscope must also be able to focus on your bee.
For a given magnification, there is a set distance that allows an object to be in focus. As magnification increases, the working distance between your lens and your specimen decreases. If your microscope only lets you work a short distance under the lens, it can be difficult.
If you already have a stereo microscope and you’re unhappy with the working distance, look at buying a barlow lens – these are separate lenses that fit over the top of your objective lens and let you change your working distance as needed.
With a stand or an adjustable boom, you can create a much bigger working area for yourself.
If your microscope doesn’t come with a stand of its own, make sure your new stand is compatible with your model of microscope.
It’s very important to make sure your stand is sturdy. Flimsy or unstable stands can be easily affected by vibrations coming through the floor or desk, or even moderate air currents. This constant shaking can make a delicate process even more difficult than it needs to be.
It’s often a good idea to record and document your insemination procedures. The footage can serve as reference material, professional insurance or training film.
Although more expensive, some microscope models come with a built-in camera or a third eyepiece (known as a trinocular head) specifically designed for attaching a camera.
A camera will not only let you easily document your procedures for future reference, but it also makes consultation with colleagues or specialists easy. For working professionals, a microscope with a camera is a solid investment.
One of your first steps to proven, resilient and highly productive colonies is purchasing the right equipment. Use these pointers above to select the best microscope for the job.