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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Breeding, Genetics, Stock Improvement and Management of Russian Honey Bees for Mite and Small Hive Beetle Control and Pollination

Location: Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Research

Title: Ovariole number and ovary activation of Russian honeybee workers (Apis mellifera L.)

item Munday, Michael
item Rinderer, Thomas
item Rueppell, Olav

Submitted to: Journal of Apicultural Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/27/2011
Publication Date: 1/4/2012
Citation: Munday, M., Rinderer, T.E., Rueppell, O. 2012. Ovariole number and ovary activation of Russian honeybee workers (Apis mellifera L.). Journal of Apicultural Research. 51(1):147-149.

Interpretive Summary: Russian honey bees tend to keep developing queen cells in hives that have normal functioning queens. This allows for the rapid replacement of a lost queen. However, there may be negative consequences for the acceptance of a new queen if the production of queen cells is associated with exceptional ovary development by worker bees that engage in the behavior. This study shows that the ovary development in Russian honey bee workers is minimal and consistent with other populations of honey bees.

Technical Abstract: Although functionally sterile under normal hive conditions, honeybee workers retain small ovaries. The size of the worker ovaries varies considerably within Apis mellifera and has been linked to individual reproduction and various aspects of social behavior. Here, we report the ovary size of workers of Russian honeybees, a strain that has been introduced to the U.S. for its superior mite resistance. Surveying the lines of the USDA breeding program, we report comparatively small ovary sizes in the maintained breeding population, a positive correlation between ovary size and activation, and significant variation among colonies, suggesting at least some genetic variation. The data supports the notion of a general trend for small ovaries in northern populations of A. mellifera.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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