Morphometry (Download the beemorph programme)

    Morphometry is the study of the physical characteristics of an organism. In beekeeping we can measure certain points on the vein pattern of the bees wings and use the data to calculate cubital index and discoidal shift. To study further check out the websites of BIBBA and Russell Talbot.

   In the past this has been done by mounting about 30 wings onto a slide and projecting them onto the wall and then measuring certain points while noting down the data longhand. Having spent many frustrating hours with a projector, I thought that there had to be an easier way. My computer expert neighbour Russell Talbot said there was and set about designing a computer programme which could interpret the scanned images of the bee wings and produce the necessary graphs of Discoidal Shift and Cubital Index to allow the user to readily identify his bee strain.

    In practice, throughout the year I keep a check on my bees in all my apiaries and look for colonies showing the traits I want, namely  colour, honey production, non-aggressive, thrifty etc. and these few colonies are the bees I return to my mating apiary following their time on the moors during the heather harvest. The following spring I carry out the morphometry tests on the colonies in the mating apiary, using the computer programme. Those showing the greatest tendency towards the British Black Bee will be used for that years queen rearing. 

    If you want to try the programme then it is available through Russell's website.

The morphometry test results of one of the colonies selected for queen rearing this year.

Cubital Index
We are looking here for a spread of 1.3-2.1 with a mean 1.7



Discoidal Shift
Here we basically want to see a cluster in the bottom left quarter of the graph i.e.. a negative discoidal shift and cubital index no greater than 2.1.