Syringe driver

Two types of syringe seem to be commonly used to inseminate queens. The first, based on a design by Mackensen(1) is a simple syringe fitted with a fine glass insemination tip. A more recent innovation is the Harbo syringe(2). This separates the plunger mechanism from the insemination tip, connecting the two with a fine bore flexible tube. Comparing the two, I decided that the separation of the two components provided by the Harbo design had the advantage of avoiding any inadvertent movement of the insemination tip caused by unsteady hands. The syringe driver is assembled from a 1ml glass syringe body with a solid glass plunger together with a micrometer head.

Syringe driver

The syringe body and micrometer are mounted on a home made acrylic stand. This is arranged such that the micrometer shaft presses onto the end of the syringe plunger. This provides the necessary very fine adjustment of the syringe. A spring fitted under the plunger head provides the return travel. A short length of silicon tubing connects the syringe to a fine bore PTFE tube. A glass capillary tube is attached to the remote end of the PTFE tube using another short piece of silicon tubing. The open end of the capillary tube is drawn out to form the fine insemination tip. The capillary tube has a 0.5mm bore. The tip it is drawn down to an internal diameter of approximately 0.17mm

  1. Laidlaw H. (1977), Instrumental Insemination of Honey Bee Queens, Dadant, Illinois
  2. Cobey S. et al. (2013), Standard methods for instrumental insemination of Apis mellifera queens, In V Dietemann; J.D Ellis; P. Neumann (Eds) The COLOSS BEEBOOK, Volume 1, Journal of Apicultural Research 52(4), IBRA, Cardiff

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