Apart from the Neotropical flesh eating Trigona species, all existing bees are pollen feeding. Approximately 5% of these form colonies. In honeybees, colony health is evaluated by measuring seasonal hive weight increases and by visual inspections. However, rather than indicating good colony health, hive weight increases can be attributed to increases in stores from foragers feeding precociously during times of colony stress. Additionally, the subjective nature of these methods, leads to large errors. Visual inspections with stingless bee colonies are particularly invasive. Many bees die during inspections because they drown in spilt honey. Re-sealing the hive also kills bees, and the queen risks being squashed. Nevertheless, studies on bees continue as new, improved methods emerge to replace the old. Diagnostic Radioentomology is an innovative, non-invasive, imaging method for studying insects. Since development, it has been adopted by universities, synchrotron facilities and CT scanners to study morphology, physiology and behaviour of insects and has been hailed as the ‘Gold Standard’ for honeybee monitoring. In 2008, it was described as an emerging non-invasive technique for behavioural, evolutionary and classical biologists who choose to study animals without harming them. This chapter describes methods and includes examples of research conducted using Diagnostic Radioentomology.
Part of the book: Modern Beekeeping