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Mounting Honey Bee Wings For Morphometric Analysis

This page is credited in full to Dave Cushman who created it. His voice is expressed in black colour text and any additions or comments in blue belong to myself. Credit: Dave Cushman’s website.



Mounting Honey Bee Wings
For Morphometric Analysis

Mounting sets of honey bee’s wings in 35 mm slide mounts for projection, to enable measuring of the ratios and angles of various wing veins in order that we may help to establish the racial type of the honey bee concerned. Perpendicular alignment of slide projector

Various wing measurements can be made by using a 35 mm slide projector to project the images of mounted wings onto a white wall. The projector must be positioned so that the beam of light is perpendicular to the wall in both the horizontal and vertical plane, otherwise the distortion produced will affect the results.

A particular type of slide mount know as a “Gepe” is made in Sweden and widely available at photographic stores. It consists of two plastic half frames containing thin metal masks and each half frame is separately glazed.

Drawing of Gepe slide mount

Three strips of double sided adhesive tape 2 mm wide are applied as shown dividing the window into three “panes” (as per drawing on right).

The wings are placed in position using a mounted needle and the wing root is pressed onto the sticky tape (a finger or small spatula will do this adequately).

Drawing showing sticky tape positions on slide mount
extra large slide mounts that can hold 50 wings
Drawing showing completed 15 wing slide ?? ?Photograph of completed 15 wing slide

Your completed set of 15 wings should look like those above… My first one was a bit wobbly, but I could still get the results when projected, you gain in precision as you complete more slides. The white side of the mount can have the identification of the sample indelibly marked using a fine felt tipped pen intended for marking overhead projection gels.

Suitable tools for picking up the individual wings for placement are described on the Microscopy Tools page. The mounted needle method actually causes less damage than using tweezers.

There is another type of Gepe slide mount that is 70 mm square, (shown below) this type has a viewable area 60 mm square. I use these myself because I use a Bronica S2a camera that takes 120 or 220 transparency film. These extra large slide mounts can hold 70 (or more) wings each. The principle is the same, but all the wings for a single colony are on the same slide.

If left and right wings are used the adhesive strips are set out so that the wing roots are on the left for right hand wings and on the right for left hand wings. (this saves the confusion about which side you are viewing through)

Using an optical projector is not the only way that these measurements can be made. During the years 2000 through to the present time many different versions of computer based software applications have been generated that can scan the wings either directly or with the aid of human plotting of the scanned wing images. A page of links to such software is available for Windows platform users and LINUX users, as well as this GBBG Downloads Page.

For more precise work that is envisaged for the future, a method of mounting is to be developed using ‘Karo’ brand syrup, which will overcome distortion that can arise due to the anti-Newton micro pattern on the glass surface as well as providing a higher contrast.


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