Submitted to: Reproduction, Fertility and Development
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: November 4, 2003
Publication Date: November 4, 2003
Citation: Collins, A.M. 2003. Effective viability threshold for preserved honey bee semen. Reproduction, Fertility and Development. 16:166. Technical Abstract: The honey bee, Apis mellifera, is one of very few insects for which artificial insemination is possible, and preservation of semen has been attempted. Semen cryopreserved following existing protocols (Harbo JR 1983 Annals Ent. Soc. Amer. 76, 890-891) has less than 20-25% live spermatozoa, a number insufficient to successfully fertilize all of the eggs from an active queen. Semen with 46% live spermatozoa or more, produces consistent laying patterns with all fertilized eggs (workers)(Collins AM 2000 Apidologie 31, 421-429). The current study was to determine how long queens inseminated with mixed fresh:frozen semen would continue to produce normal brood (collective term for all eggs, larvae and pupae). Sister queens were inseminated with a. all fresh semen, b. half fresh and half freeze-killed semen, or c. ¼ fresh and ¾ freeze-killed semen, or were allowed to mate naturally. The queens were evaluated for percentage of worker vs. drone offspring and area of comb with brood. As expected, the inseminated queens produced less brood than did the naturally mated queens. The queens with only fresh semen produced normal brood and lived well into the winter. 88% of the queens inseminated with half freeze-killed semen performed as well, although some of those failed within a few months. The third treatment, only 25% fresh semen, had 60% of the queens producing high levels of drones, in reduced areas of egg laying. These results mean that preserved semen that has 50% or better viable sperm cam produce inseminated queens that will lay normally and can function for a whole beekeeping season. This is sufficient for breeders to rear daughter queens from such matings, and incorporate desirable genotypes into a breeding program.