5.4.2. Choice assays on groups in semi natural conditions (micro-hives)
In this assay, caged bees can be used (see the BEEBOOK paper on maintaining adult Apis mellifera in cages under in vitro laboratory conditions (Williams et al., 2013)). The cage must be fitted with transparent walls allowing for observation, with a small comb glued in the middle and two side openings for lure introduction. Briefly,
- Place freshly emerged (about 1 day old) bees into the cage (Dor et al., 2005; Malka et al., 2007)
- Feed them with sugar solution and pollen cakes ad libitum.
- Keep the cages in a temperature controlled chamber simulating hive conditions (of 30-33 0C and 50-70% relative humidity).
- After a few (1-3) days, of acclimatization in darkness, present workers with the choice of lures,
- Count the number of workers on the lure licking and antennating at specific time intervals determined in preliminary studies.
Pros: This type of assay offers greater control over environmental conditions; remotely resembles the natural situation of bees as they are kept on a comb; allows for maintenance of bees for about three weeks and enables the comparing of responses of the same group of bees to a series of doses or different compounds. It also enables the conduction of age-specific tests.
Cons: Such bioassays demand construction of special cages and possession of a temperature controlled chamber.