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End of the first collecting trip

February 6, 2011

My time at BCI is almost up, for now at least. I leave for Austin Monday, but I will be back on March 7th. Next time I will live off the island, at Gamboa. The island is just a short boat trip from Gamboa, so I will be here several days a week. But I will collect on the mainland as well, so it should be good. I’ve become addicted to the forest here, so I will miss living in the thick of it.

My time here has been great, my routine was normally looking for Megalopta nests in the morning, then returning to the lab for lunch. My afternoons were spent dissecting nests for genetic analyses that I will do in Texas. I have also been setting up a first round of an experiment to get the kinks worked out. Before Austin, I was working for one of my favorite scientists, John Jaenike. I learned a lot from John, including that it is a good idea to set up several different versions of an experiment. It is a rare event that the first try works, so setting up a second or third version is a good idea. My first version already failed, so I’ve set up versions 2 and 3. Unfortunately, I have to leave them here as I don’t have permits for importing live bees. But I will leave the experiments in the capable hands of some STRI scientists. Here is a picture of what I’ve been setting up:

This is basically an artificial brood cell, the design is based on Natalia Biani’s brood cells for Megalopta. It is wax with a depression in it for the pollen provision/egg (the egg is the curved white structure on top of the pollen). Once I carefully dissect the brood cell, I place the pollen and egg in here, and then place a heated glass cover on top. That allows me to seal the cell so that humidity is maintained and outside microbes are kept out. The straw in the side of the cup allows me to access the cell for manipulations. I’ve also tried some without the straw to see if those are more successful. They are better sealed, so they might keep the bees happier. The eggs are super delicate, so for this to work you have to be very careful to not touch them at all! But it allows for interesting manipulations and then you can watch to see what your manipulations lead to.

I’ll continue with notes from the field in March. In the meantime, if I come across any bee news I’ll post it. Thanks for following the blog, I hope that you find bees and the work of a melittologist a little bit more interesting!

One Comment leave one →
  1. tia dias permalink
    February 7, 2011 5:35 am

    Wow, that flew by fast! But, so will February to March. Talk to you soon bro.

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