Posted by: buzzybeegirl | November 3, 2008

I see baby bees

I really haven’t been up to anything extremely exciting. Sorting through several excel sheets of data is not exactly one of the glamours of research. Personally, I like collecting the data. And I like looking at x-rays. Bee x-rays to be exact. For the past few weeks I have been double checking some of my bee nest x-rays. So by now you are probably thinking what a nut I must be…”how do the bees hold still for x-rays?” Well, it’s not the bees themselves that I had x-rayed, but the nests that contain the baby bees inside. Because I am studying what is happening to the native bee populations as urbanization here in Tucson increases, I have to look at the total production of bees in small and large urban fragments. To do this I need to know how many baby bees are in the artificial bee nests in these different areas. This is where x-rays come in. It is similar to you getting an x-ray at the doctors office. The doctor wants to see what is inside without having to cut you open. I want to see what is inside the nests without having to cut each nest open.

Guess what…IT WORKS! bee nests can be x-rayed. Here’s the proof…

x-ray of several x-rays

To really be able to look inside, the radiology department at University Medical Center in Tucson, gave me a disc with software built in. It allows me to change the brightness and contrast as well as zoom in and out, measure things, etc. I thought it was really nice of them to help me. Especially because they x-rayed hundreds of nests for free. Lot’s of great people over there. The letters help me keep track of which stick was in which fragment. They are scrap booking letters. Great for scrapbooks and great for x-rays!

Back to the x-rays. Here is a close up of one of my sticks

Those funky little bean shaped things inside are the baby bees. During this stage they are called larvae, which means they are in a juvenile form. The circle around each one is their cocoon. Looking at this picture, you can count the number of baby bees inside. I will post more pictures of x-rays showing the capping and more bean bees. I will leave you with this…how many bees does it take to fill a nest?



  1. super cool! and the babies are very cute! what type of bees are these?

    will exposing them to radiation create some sort of super bee? or a mutant 2-headed bee?

  2. eleventeen???? ok bye

  3. I’m with goodbear….you’re not researching, but looking to create a mutant atomic bee colony that answers only to you and that you’ll use them to take over the world!

    No doubt you have some attractive lab assistant to take notes and such too.

  4. There are different species of bees and I would have to look at my notes for those particular nests to figure out what type of bees they were.

    And wouldn’t you rather have me and my superbees ruling the world instead of McCain and Palin?

  5. This is very interesting! You are fortunate to have such supportive folks to help with your research.

  6. good point buzzy. by 1012 i want the bee army up to speed, just in case the palinator tries to rule the country.


  7. Thanks MNG. I do feel very lucky to have met such wonderful people. What also made it great was their attitude towards the request. They absolutely loved looking at the sticks and the bees inside. This part couldn’t have happened without them.

  8. I’m all for the buzzybeegirl platform!

  9. Did you ever see a Sea Bee? You might see a sea bee in Port Hueneme.

  10. A Seabee…I heard they are great builders =-) I also believe those are hard to net.

  11. […] As promised, here are more x-ray pictures. This is another set of wooden […]

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