In recent years, there has been an increase in interest in carrying out instrumental Insemination (II) of queen bees. This I believe is largely due to two factors, firstly concerns about successful queen mating on the wing and secondly the availability of courses to teach the necessary skills. Courses are now available from several experienced tutors across the UK. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend such a weekend course a couple of years ago. Since then, I have been trying, with some limited success, to improve my skills.
This is not a simple technique. Apart from learning the necessary skills, having good eyesight and steady hands, the cost of the equipment can also be a significant barrier. A typical instrumental insemination instrument can cost £1000 or more. In addition, there are a host of other items needed to complete the kit. This cost is understandable when you consider the intricate manufacturing and assembly work involved and the small quantities being made. This is not a product area where the mass production cost saving techniques of Henry Ford are likely to be applied anytime soon. Not one to be put off by a practical challenge, and being unable to justify spending £1000+ on the commercially available equipment when considering the number of queens I am ever likely to inseminate, I decided to have a go and see if I could make some useable equipment for a much reduced budget.
It took a few attempts, and some fine tuning to get to a useable set up. I hope these pages may inspire some of you to have a go to build your own. It is intended only as an introduction to the primary features, rather than providing step by step instructions. Hopefully this will enable those with sufficient practical skills to put together their own equipment.
The complete kit is shown above. The stereo microscope has been omitted for the sake of clarity. The most complex, and difficult to make piece of equipment is the II instrument itself.
The links below provide more details on each of the items.
THESE PAGES ARE UNDER CONSTRUCTION – MORE DETAILS TO FOLLOW
The cost of the materials to make the complete set of equipment was around £120. This represents a considerable saving on the commercial cost of the equipment. That, of course does not account for the many hours spent putting it all together.
Most of the materials were sourced on-line, the majority through eBay.
I plan to add more construction details to these pages over time. If there are any specific construction details you would like more information on, please contact me.