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item Collins, Anita

Submitted to: Journal of Apicultural Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/13/2004
Publication Date: 8/13/2004
Citation: Collins, A.M. 2004. Functional longevity of honey bee, apis mellifera l., queens inseminated with low viability semen. Journal of Apicultural Research. 43(4):167-171.

Interpretive Summary: The honey bee is an important beneficial insect. Honey bee breeders select stocks to improve desirable traits such as pollination efficiency and honey production, and sell queens to beekeepers across the U.S. Methods to preserve honey bee germplasm are needed to enhance breeding efforts. In a program to develop preservation methods, we have shown that queens inseminated with semen having 50% or more live sperm can function as well as naturally mated queens for at least one season of queen production. The results of this research will be used by other scientists and queen breeders in planning breeding programs.

Technical Abstract: Honey bee queens artificially inseminated using semen with 46% live spermatozoa or more consistently produce all fertilized eggs in normal worker laying patterns at 3-4 weeks after insemination. However, queen producers that might use stored semen to preserve breeder stock would want to rear daughter queens throughout a season, longer than those experimental queens were observed. In two years sister queens were inseminated with various mixtures of fresh and freeze-killed semen, or were allowed to mate naturally. Colonies were evaluated for area of comb with all stages of brood, the percentage of worker vs. drone offspring in sealed brood, and the number of empty cells in a representative area sealed brood until cold weather precluded colony manipulation. No queens inseminated with ¾ or more fresh semen ever became drone layers, only 4.8% of the queens inseminated with half fresh semen did so, but 60% of queens with ¼ fresh semen were laying some proportion of unfertilized eggs. Preserved semen that has 50% or better viable sperm can be used to inseminate queens that will function normally long enough for a breeder to rear daughter queens and incorporate desirable genotypes into a breeding program.