Published: September 14th, 2018
Hypopharyngeal gland acinus size is a robust measure of nurse honey bee nutrition. Here, we provide a detailed protocol for dissecting, staining, imaging, and measuring nurse bee hypopharyngeal gland acini.
The nurse hypopharyngeal glands produce the protein fraction of the worker and royal jelly that is fed to developing larvae and queens. These paired glands that are located in the head of the bee are highly sensitive to the quantity and quality of pollen and pollen substitutes that the nurse bee consumes. The glands get smaller when nurses are fed deficient diets and are large when they are fed complete diets. Because nurse hypopharyngeal gland size is a robust indicator of nurse nutrition, it is essential that those studying honey bee nutrition know how to measure these glands. Here, we provide detailed methods for dissecting, staining, imaging, and measuring nurse bee hypopharyngeal glands. We present comparisons of unstained and stained tissue and data that were used to study the impact of pollen on gland size. This method has been used to test how diet impacts hypopharyngeal gland size but has further use for understanding the role of these glands in hive health.
Honey bees are essential for agriculture because they pollinate a variety of crops that are consumed by humans and animals. Much attention has been paid to the decline of honey bee populations as colony losses hover around 30-40% each year in the United States1 and 10–15% in Europe2,3. Multiple factors, including reduced access to high quality forage, likely act together to negatively impact honey bee health. Monoculture, drought, unsustainable beekeeping practices, and other factors decrease the diversity and amount of natural pollens available to colonies4
1. Dissecting and Staining the Hypopharyngeal Glands from Nurse Workers
Hypopharyngeal glands were dissected from nurse workers and visualized with and without stain at 60–80X magnification (Figure 1). In unstained tissue, it is difficult to find proper contrast to fully focus and define the edges of the acini. In the stained tissue, the edges of the acini are sharp because of the improved contrast between the stained tissue and the white background.
Hypopharyngeal gland size is sensitive to the amount of protein and pollen in the diet and is a critical marker of nourishment in young adult bees. Here, we demonstrate an inexpensive and reproducible way to dissect and measure this tissue. These tissues can be difficult to dissect, but with practice, one can obtain increasingly cleaner dissections with the tissue relatively intact. The main advantage of the method presented here is that the tissue is stained, which enables the researcher to clearly visualize the borders.......
|Cool setting wax
|Glass petri dish, small
|Glass petri dish, large
|Super Max Wax Pen
|Breakable razor blades
|Electron Microscopy Sciences
|2A-SA flat/rounded tip forceps
|Fine point forceps
|5A-SA super fine point forceps
|10 mm micro spring scissors
|3 mm micro spring Vannas scissors
|Glass Depression Slides, Single Cavity
|Giemsa stain, modified solution
|ENTO SPHINX S.R.O.
|Leica Applications Suite measurement software
|any measurement software, including free software, can be used
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