2.1.2. How to catch returning foragers

  •  Block the hive entrance temporarily with a wire mesh.
  •  Wait for the returning bees to land on the mesh and collect them individually in 10 ml glass vials.
  •  Close the vials with foam plugs.

The advantage of catching bees on their return to the hive is that the researcher can differentiate between pollen foragers (filled pollen baskets) and nectar or water foragers (empty pollen baskets and distended abdomen). In addition, the researcher does not need a glass pyramid when catching returning bees. However, catching returning bees might in some weather conditions take a much longer time than catching departing bees. In this situation, and when the foraging role of the bees is of minor importance, leaving bees should be caught.

Sometimes, bees are collected directly from their frames according to their age and independent of their social role (Pankiw and Page, 1999; Scheiner et al., 2001a; Behrends et al., 2007; Rueppell et al., 2007; Scheiner and Amdam, 2009). For this, use soft forceps and collect individual bees in glass vials. If necessary, use smoke to calm bees down. More details on selecting colonies and workers for laboratory experiments can be found in the section ‘Obtaining adult workers for laboratory experiments’ of the BEEBOOK paper on standard methods for maintaining adult Apis mellifera in cages under in vitro laboratory conditions (Williams et al., 2013)