3.1.2. Dissecting instruments

Only a few instruments are needed (Fig. 36), but it is important that three of them should be of exactly the right kind.

  • The scissors should be 'cuticle' scissors, not less than 90 mm in length, and not much longer, with very fine points which cut cleanly right up to their tips. Looked at sideways, they should be very slim.
  • Forceps need to have very fine points and grip very firmly at their extreme tips.
  • A very sharp and finely-pointed knife is the third important tool. The Swann-Morton scalpel No. 3 with replaceable Swann-Morton No. 11 blades of the correct shape is widely used.
  • A pair of needles, mounted in metal handles.
  • Pasteur pipettes.
  • Coarse forceps.
  • A stout wire, bent into an L-shape, its long limb being about 150 mm long and the short one 20 mm long. The best material is brass rod, 5mm thick. This brass wire has to be heated (Section 3.1.5.; Plate 1A).
  • Two or three dissecting dishes need to be made from flat round metal tins about 75 mm in diameter. These are to be filled with melted beeswax to within 6 mm of the top of the rim; the wax must then be allowed to solidify. The surface of the wax has to be re-melted frequently, and this is done most conveniently by turning a Bunsen burner flame downwards over the dish. If a Bunsen is not available, a hand gas tool may be used or a butane blow-lamp; otherwise the whole of the wax will have to be melted. When dissections are done to prepare glands (e.g. mandibular glands) for chemical analyses, wax contamination can be a problem. In this instance a clean glass Petri dish can be used. There the bee cannot be fixed, but with some training, this is not a problem.