3.1.5. Mounting bees for dissection

Insects are usually dissected with their backs uppermost, though in some cases another posture may be more appropriate for some special reason.

1. Take a freshly killed or preserved worker, and cut off its wings, legs and proboscis with scissors.

2. If the bee has been preserved, dry it as well as possible by rolling it gently on blotting paper.

3. Consult Plate 1.

4. Seize the bee by the thorax, back uppermost with coarse forceps.

5. Take the bent wire with the other hand.

6. Heat its short limb in a flame.

7. Apply the hot wire to the wax in the middle of the dissecting dish, thus forming a small pool of melted wax somewhat bigger than the bee.

8. Place the bee quickly in the pool, hold it there with the cool end of the wire, and withdraw the forceps.

9. Reheat the wire and melt a little of the wax near the sides and ends of the bee

10. Push this melted wax against the body, so that it piles up slightly and makes good contact.

This will ensure that the specimen is firmly anchored and will not come adrift during dissection. The bee should be sunk nearly halfway in the wax. Plate 1A shows this operation, and B the embedded bee. All this must be done quickly and without overheating the insect. A better posture is obtained if, when lowering the bee into the pool of wax, the tip of the abdomen touches the wax first; it will adhere, and then the body can be drawn forward slightly, thus stretching the abdomen a little. Whole insects, or parts like the head, can be prepared in any posture that may be desired.

11. Pour insect saline or dissecting fluid (diluted alcohol) on at once, enough to cover the bee.

The fluid floats and supports the internal organs and of course prevents them from drying.

12. Place the dish under the microscope, it then is ready for work.

13. Focus the microscope and adjust the spot lamp.

14. Instruments should be laid out ready for use.