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.
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