Functional longevity of honey bee, Apis mellifera, queens inseminated with low viability semen
Anita M Collins
167 to 171
Queen honey bees instrumentally inseminated using semen with 46% or more live spermatozoa consistently laid all fertilized eggs in normal worker brood 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 these experimental queens were observed. To determine how long queens inseminated with low viability semen continue to produce worker brood, 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 of sealed brood once a month for 5-6 months, at midwinter, and again the following spring. One queen of 22 queens inseminated with 75% or more fresh semen became a partial drone layer by mid winter, only two of the 21 queens inseminated with half fresh semen ran out of sperm, but 3 of 5 of queens with 25% 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 as well as a fully mated queen for at least one season, such that a breeder could rear many daughter queens and incorporate desirable genotypes into a breeding programme.