Practical Microscopy for Beekeepers



Practical Microscopy for Beekeepers by Bob Maurer  

ISBN 978-0-900147-13-5

Price £17.50 inc p&p from the Bee Craft Shop

 2 reviews from Simon Croson and Steve Mynard 

I have been beekeeping for seven years and am working my way towards the Master Beekeeper qualification. I am acutely in tune with the demands which that goal places on the individual so every piece of help is welcome. Although there are a several microscopy books available, the freshness will make this the one to put on the list of both individual and association libraries. I have certainly enjoyed reading it and will be looking to add it to my library.

I feel that the book is very well laid out and makes for an easy read. The photos and diagrams are clear and to the point. I couldn’t put it down! It is obvious that Bob has a wealth of current knowledge and the ability to present that knowledge in a way that makes it very easy to digest.

I admire the balanced approach to the recommendations of the state of the art equipment and the more cost effective route that many may follow for those alternatives. It is not often that such gems of ideas are shared so freely. The huge amount of easy-to-follow tips makes the book worth the price tag alone.

One observation would be that a photo of a nosema spore alongside that of an amoeba cyst would have taken away the frustration of trying to find out the difference. I say this because a recent disease session at the National Bee Unit also provided little clarity on the subject apart from a general description: a photo would have given something to compare.

I am sure that the teamwork put into this book will ensure the palatable contents will be read by those undertaking beekeeping and microscopy activities for years to come and that many new to microscopy will be encouraged by the guiding words of Bob.  

Simon Croson


Bob Maurer’s book is an effective, practical workshop manual for the beekeeper who wishes to use microscopes to explore bee anatomy and pollen and to diagnose pests and diseases in their stock.

After a detailed introduction to the two types of microscope that the beekeeper will require and some sound advice on health and safety implications, Bob covers the importance of setting up the microscope correctly to gain a well-defined image.

The sections that follow provide step-by-step instructions on how to dissect the honey bee thorax to look for signs of acarine infestation in the tracheae and how to diagnose nosema under the microscope. Production of slides to view pollen and demonstrate bee anatomy is covered with equally detailed and clear instructions, as is a full abdominal dissection.

Bob gained his own practical experience of microscopy from several experts in the field. This allows him on occasion to present alternative approaches to a technique, for example making slides of pollen. This is helpful for the beginner, who may find one approach better suits them than another.

What I particularly like about Bob’s writing style is the way he shares his own tricks and shortcuts. There is an intimacy in this approach that is engaging and helpful and leaves the reader with a sense that they have privileged access to knowledge. It also makes the text very readable.

The numerous photographs are carefully posed and complement the text perfectly: each accurately captures the procedure it is there to illustrate. Diagrams are used sparingly, which is appropriate: any beekeeper who takes up microscopy will want to invest in one of the detailed anatomy books Bob recommends as further reading. The extensive glossary is helpful and the further reading section is comprehensive.


Bob has worked closely with Alan Potter of Brunel Microscopes on this book and Brunel has put together a kit of chemicals and equipment specifically mentioned in the text. Details of this and advice on purchasing microscopes will be found when available on the company website. (

While this excellent book covers microscopy for bee anatomy, pollen and pests and diseases in detail, it only briefly touches on the technical aspects of the BBKA Microscopy Examination, such as the physics of light. For that purpose I trust Bee Craft will enlarge this volume in its second edition. I also believe chapter headings that follow the structure of the BBKA Microscopy Examination syllabus would guide the reader more effectively through the book.

Microscopy is an important skill for the craft of beekeeping. ‘A trained microscopist in every division’ is a worthwhile goal and Bob Maurer has given this aspiration a real boost with his practical and clear, workmanlike guide.  

Steve Mynard  

[Steve Mynard organises courses with the University of Bath for beekeepers that wish to use microscopes in their work. Details can be found at]

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