4.3.4. Collecting intra-hive adult workers of an undefined age for laboratory experiments

Workers can easily be collected from frames within the colony. Because of the dynamic nature of honey bee age polyethism (Calderone, 1995; van der Steen et al., 2012), it is not possible to accurately collect individuals of known ages based on location within the colony. For example, van der Steen et al. (2012) observed no difference in worker age classes among frames in a colony, and that approximately 60 % of workers on frames were one or two weeks old.

  1. Inspect the frame from which workers are to be collected from for the queen. If present, gently move her to an adjacent frame.
  2. Gently brush individuals into a suitable hoarding cage (see section 5) placed below the frame using a beekeeping brush or similar tool with soft bristles. Alternatively, the frame can be gently shaken over a suitably sized open-mouthed container prior to transferring collected workers to a suitable hoarding cage.
  3. Gently shake the opened hoarding cage or container for ~ 1 minute to prevent young workers from escaping by walking and to allow older flying workers to exit.
  4. Close hoarding cage, or transfer remaining workers into a suitable hoarding cage with food (sections 5 and 7).
  5. Immediately transfer the hoarding cage to a laboratory incubator maintained at conditions discussed in section 6.