Submitted to: Apidologie
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 5, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: If we could store honey bee semen for significant periods of time, our ability to produce and maintain better bees would be raised. This study was done to determine what level of survival of stored sperm would be necessary for a successful storage program. Honey bee queens were artificially mated with various mixes of fresh and killed semen. Queens that had received a mix with at least 50% fresh semen (live sperm) successfully produced good quantities of worker offspring. Therefore, our program to improve storage technology will need to reach at least this level, about double the survival achieved by previous researchers.
Technical Abstract: Techniques to effectively store honey bee semen would facilitate the selection and maintenance of superior stocks. This study was done to determine an acceptable level of spermatozoa survival required of such storage technique. Honey bee queens were inseminated using various mixes of fresh and freeze killed semen, and allowed to lay eggs in small colonies sfor three weeks. The queens receiving all freeze killed spermatozoa (0% fresh) had no spermatozoa in their spermathecae, and produced only drone pupae (unfertilized eggs). The proportions of live and dead spermatozoa (determined by dual fluorescent staining) in the spermatheca of queens receiving 25% to 100% fresh semen were not significantly different at 27 days post-insemination. For the group receiving 25% fresh semen, the percentage of live spermatozoa in the spermatheca was significantly higher than that in the semen used for insemination. Queens receiving 50% fresh semen or more produced only worker pupae (all eggs were fertilized). Therefore, a program to improve storage of semen should only have to reach survival levels of 50% of the spermatozoa to have functional semen.