Over the last few weeks I have been writing about the importance of hive inspections and field notes covering some of the attributes of the hive one might choose to identify, observe, interpret, and record. I introduced the attributes in a blog that included an example of the field data sheets we use during our inspections. In the weeks following the initial blog, entitled “Field Notes and Hive Inspection”, I briefly touched on how to estimate a hives’ adult population in terms of frames of bees and how to spot eggs in the cells of the brood nest. The previous blog on eggs, larvae, pupae, and the queen focused on identifying and observing the egg. This week the focus will be on the larvae…
Studies published on honey bee larva in the 1920’s indicate that a worker larva can increase its initial weight 1,500 times in four and a half to five days. If we were to apply this to a human baby it would mean that an eight pound new born would weigh 12,000 pounds well before it reached two weeks old.
Similar studies published by the same scientists provided evidence that a nurse bee averages about 1,300 visits a day in the eight days it takes for a freshly laid egg to mature in to a larva and become sealed in its cell. It would certainly take a lot of care to create a 12,000 pound bundle of joy; no doubt the caretakers would be busy.
Young worker larva is 1.6 millimeters in length and lay in a semi-circle against the bottom of its cell. Healthy larva has a pearly white appearance and is much easier to spot then its predecessor the egg, which boasts a length of one-sixteenth of an inch.
There are a number of identifiable diseases that are associated with honey bee larva. Diseases affecting larva can be difficult to accurately identify. For more information on this website see Rob Snyder’s blogs on brood diseases. Rob has some of the best images in the business a few of which have made their way into the latest edition of “The Hive and the Honey Bee”.
In the first blog entitled “Eggs, Larvae, Pupae, Queen” I challenged you to double-click over top of the cells in the image below to see if you could spot the eggs…This week I will ask you to do the same but this time try to identify an individual larva. Once you are able to tell the difference between an egg and an unsealed larva make the effort to explore the image in more detail to observe the differences amongst individual larva laid in the same frame. Can you tell the difference between healthy larva and unhealthy larva? Are you able to tell how old the larva is based on its size? Obviously this is not an image of a healthy frame of brood but begin to ask yourself, why is this brood not healthy? Then ask yourself what does this brood pattern tell me about the environment?…the condition of the adult bees, the queen, and the hive as whole?
See snapshots and more detail about the picture and gigapan technology at gigapan.org