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Homemade AI Instrument For Honey Bees
I coordinate the Honeybee Improvement Pro-gram, a cooperative bee breeding program with the goal of breeding bees that can both survive and thrive with no treatment for either of the parasitic mites now decimating our honeybee population. Artificial insemination (in bees often called instrumental insemination) is critical to controlling mating (breeding best to best) as honeybee queens naturally mate with 8 to 20 drones in the air up to six miles away from their colony. Once they start laying eggs they never mate again, having stored semen to use during their lifetime.
In 1995, after a short course on honeybee AI at Ohio State University, I did some hard-ware store engineering to save money by making my own AI instrument. All told I spent less than $400. The device includes the sting and ventral hooks used to hold the queen open (done with her anesthetized with car-bon dioxide gas - everything is done under a microscope) as well as the Harbo syringe. Commercial units sell for $900 to $1,200 so I saved a lot of money. You can learn more about it and about our program on the Internet - look under Honeybee Improvement Program at http://members.tripod.com/~Griffes/ (Jack Griffes, Onsted, Mich. 49265 ph 517 467-2818)

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1998 - Volume #22, Issue #5