Optimising the construction of a device for artificial insemination of queen honeybees

Optimising the construction of a device for artificial insemination of queen honeybees

The construction of the device for artificial insemination of queen honeybees was optimized with special attention to four essential components: the queen holder, the ventral and dorsal hooks, the inclination of the linear syringe displacement and the capillary puller.

1. Construction of the ‘queen holder’.

A tentative construction on the basis of an ‘Eppendorf’ tube of 1,5 ml has been tested in practice. It appeared quite quickly that the internal diameter of the ‘Eppendorf’ queen holder was 1,10 mm too large for insemination of carnica queens. A new (prototype) of queen holder is currently being studied.

2. Construction of the ‘ventral and dorsal hook’.

2.1. Ventral hook.

Most types of ventral hooks are a quite simple construction: a small (+/- 15 mm) rod of stainless steel, with a diameter of 0,3 mm x 0,2 mm, bended in such a way that it may open slightly the ventral part of the sting chamber.

A new construction in our programme is the use of a copper-silver alloy. Bending the rod with a fine pair of pliers is much easier than with stainless steel. Moreover, sharp cutting  edges can easily been eliminated by polishing with a corundum or diamond paste.

2.2. Dorsal hook.

Much more difficult is the construction of the dorsal hook. Several attempts have been made worldwide with varying success.

2.2.1. dorsal hook (‘dorsal sting holder’) of Schley.

2.2.2. ‘Tweezers sting grip’, a very precisely finished piece of equipment, produced by Schley (not appropriate for beginners). The sting may be damaged and cause infections.

2.2.3. German-Swedish type of ‘Needle sting grip’ the internal diameter is only 0,08 mm, just a little bit too small for working with queens of different races.

2.2.4. Belgian ‘Ring sting grip’ by Van Laere (2019).

The most recent type of dorsal sting grip is made by Van Laere in Belgium (2019). It is a stainless steel needle with an eye on top of it, with boring of exactly 0,2 mm (tolerance of +/- 2 %) and stroke of 0.3 mm; external diameter of 0.3 mm, fixed on a luer base. The hook is ultrason cleaned with tensio-active additives, subsequent rinsing with tap water and demi-water.

This construction is the result of thorough consultation and discussion with specialists of micro metal structures. The end result is an accurately reproducible piece with a much higher accuracy tolerance than the current standard models worldwide. I look forward to practical applications in the coming season.

Dorsal micro-perforated hook  
(Van Laere, Belgium, 2019)

3. Inclination of linear syringe displacement

While performing insemination, it is necessary to move the insemination syringe a fraction of a millimeter to the abdominal side of the field. The tip of the syringe must be moved to the left without changing all other positions.

To this end, we have linked an additional component to the insemination unit. The movement arm is so long and firmly attached that a sufficiently small movement of the capillary tip is guaranteed.

This is a most important transformation of the initial apparatus.
Long movement arm, firmly attached on the back of the apparatus - (A)


4. The capillary puller.

The capillary puller that already existed in 2018 was improved: the filament was centred better and more easily. 

Prof. Dr Octaaf Van Laere.
University of Antwerp