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Bumblebees have been the focus of a broad range of scientific research due to their behavior, social life, and a number of other intriguing traits. Current methods for examining their nest structure, such as natal cells and contents of storage cells, are destructive in nature because the cells need to be opened for physical inspections. This research describes how the internal structures of the artificial nests of the bumblebee Bombus terrestris L. (Hymentoptera: Apidae) were non-invasively viewed and assessed by using diagnostic radioentomology. For the first time, B. terrestris nest structures, and their contents such as larvae, pupae and eggs, were non-invaseively viewed and assessed. This technique will enable future experiments to take morphological measurements of egg, larval, and pupal development over time. Moreover, combining these measurements with measures of food-storage will provide a good assessment of colony health. The method will also allow tracking of individually marked adults, to monitor their behaviour and help gain a better understanding of the processes involved in the global declines of B. terrestris, which will in turn promote better management of these valuable pollinators.
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