Microscopes for Beekeepers 4

Compound Microscope

Compound Microscope

Beekeepers use two types of microscope. High power or compound microscopes and lower power dissection microscopes.

The compound microscope typically provides magnification from x40 to x1000 and is used for pollen identification and the identification of some disease causing organisms. A compound microscope will normally have a single eyepiece although more expensive models are available with binocular vision.

A dissection microscope provides lower magnification, usually x10 to x40. It has two eyepieces and provides the stereo image essential for successful manipulation and dissection of samples.

Dissection Microscope

Dissection Microscope

Harlow BKA owns both types of microscope and these are available for loan to members wishing to experience microscopy before buying their own equipment.

The compound microscope usually relies on light transmitted through a sample while the dissection microscope relies on light reflected from the sample. Samples for viewing under a compound microscope therefore have to be thin and transparent. To achieve this they are usually mounted on a glass slide and flattened under a cover sheet. In the case of external bee parts they also require processing with chemicals to enable them to be flattened and to make them transparent. See Slide Preparation for details of the processes required.

At additional cost some Microscopes come with digital cameras built in that connect directly to computers, projectors or recorders. Similarly adapters are available for connecting cameras for still or video photography to microscopes either through the eyepiece or via a dedicated photography port on trinocular microscopes.

There are several specialist suppliers of microscopy equipment. One of them, Brunel Microscopes, devotes part of its website to beekeeping and offers discounts on equipment specifically aimed at the Beekeeper and the BBKA Examinations.http://www.brunelmicroscopes.co.uk/beekeeping.html

4 thoughts on “Microscopes for Beekeepers

  • David Mallindine

    Hi are the two microscopes pictured the Brunel BM1 and theSP30?. The two day course you did sounds very interesting and worthwhile

    • Martin Cavelier Post author

      They are the BM1 Long Arm and SP27 High Power. Brunel sell them as a package aimed at beekeepers. http://www.brunelmicroscopes.co.uk/bee-disease.html I “did a deal” at the National Honey Show.
      The SP27 comes with an oil immersion objective lens (x1000) which is required for the BBKA Practical Assessment but I have replaced it with a X600 which is more user friendly as it doesn’t require the addition of oil between the slide and the lens to work and doesn’t give a cleaning problem when finished with a slide and between changes in magnification.
      The course covered an awful lot in the two days but gave a very useful grounding in the subject. Now I just need to practice!

        • David Mallindine

          Thanks Martin, I purchased the beekeeping microscope set from Brunel and am very pleased with them. Being a complete novice I am finding it hard to find a course to learn more, please let me know if ther are any workshops or classes at the Harlow meetings or anything else you may know of and I will attend.
          Kind regards David Mallindine, Epping Forest

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