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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Managing Diseases and Pests of Honey Bees to Improve Queen and Colony Health

Location: Bee Research

Title: Scientific note on mass collection and hatching of honey bee embryos

Authors
item Evans, Jay
item Boncristiani Jr, Humberto
item Chen, Yanping

Submitted to: Apidologie
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 30, 2009
Publication Date: February 25, 2010
Citation: Evans, J.D., Boncristiani Jr., H.F., Chen, Y. 2010. Scientific note on mass collection and hatching of honey bee embryos. Apidologie. 41:654-656.

Interpretive Summary: Honey bees are critically important for many agricultural crops worldwide. Here we describe a novel technique for collecting honey bee embryos that allows rapid screening for pathogens and genetic traits. This collection strategy also results in higher embryo hatching and survival than current techniques, allowing for preservation of emerging embryos, and downstream needs such as breeding and screening for rare genetic traits. This method is easily adapted for efforts by regulators seeking to screen bees for disease or africanization, bee breeders seeking a way to sample progeny from queens, and researchers seeking to validate genetic markers in bees.

Technical Abstract: Honey bees provide excellent opportunities for studying development, behavior, and defenses against natural parasites and pathogens. They are also a critical component of modern agriculture, through their leading role in pollinating the world’s crops. Research and diagnostic methods for honey bees require efficient sampling methods for all colony members, often involving a large number of individual bees. This need for greater sampling must be balanced by the expenses involved with collecting and screening numerous colony members. In the case of whole-colony surveys for pathogens, mass extractions from adult workers require scaled up amounts of expensive reagents and, as a result, most such surveys have been limited to a small subset of colony members. Mass removal of viable embryos can be used for diagnostics, as a screening tool for genetic traits of interest and, in principle, an efficient first step in programs for in vitro rearing of honey bee workers, queens, and drones. Here we describe a simple method for collecting thousands of honey bee embryos and show that these embryos have higher hatching rates than do embryos collected by more laborious methods.

Last Modified: 9/2/2014