Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Lone Drone (Bee)

A lady who works across the hall from the SEM lab is an amateur bee keeper. I asked her to keep an eye open for me and bring in any bees that she finds dead - on Monday she brought me a drone.  That in itself is pretty cool since all of the bees you see around flowers are workers.

Of course, this little drone bee went right into the scanning electron microscope for a pretty interesting afternoon of imaging.

 Talk about a head shot!! 
Eyes, antennae, mouth and first pair of legs visible.

Notice that this hairy guy even has hair on his eyes! 

A closer look at the structure in the middle of the head - the labrum or upper lip 

The mouthparts of the bee
The glossa, or tongue, extends downward

 The right maxilla of the bee

 Appendage on maxilla

Maxillar appendage  
There appear to be sensory structures present - a focus for further imaging. (No pun intended)

The business end of the glossa, or tongue 

The most distal 5 segments of the bee's antenna

 Terminal segment of an antenna

Antenna segment

 I noticed that many segments of the antenna are pourous.
This is really obvious along the right hand side of this antenna.
Note in this image the interesting patch of black spots in the upper left of the image

 The black patch actually contains what appear to be 5 different types of receptors
More questions to be answered.

 Now at look at that hairy, compound eye

Ommatidia and hairs

I have now been a scanning electron microscopist for about 8 weeks.  I remain amazed (yes, I know I say that a lot, but it is true) at what the SEM can show me.  Most important, the observations I have been making have sent me to the internet and library find out more about what I am seeing. 

Having access to high quality tools can go along way to stimulating a life long interest in science - not just biology, which is obviously my preference, but also physics, chemistry, geology, and forensics.

The electron microscopes at Eastfield are available to teachers and students at all levels.  If you would like to do some imaging please contact me.

Murry Gans
Scanning Electron Microscope Lab Coordinator
Eastfield College

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