Overwintering of honey bee queens en mass in reservoir colonies in a temperate climate and its effect on queen performance
H V Gencer
The mass storage of mated honey bee (Apis mellifera) queens in reservoir colonies over winter was investigated under continental climatic conditions. The mated queens were stored in (a) queenright reservoir (QRR) colonies on a frame with partitioned honeycomb, (b) QRR colonies on frame holding wire screen cages, (c) queenless reservoir (QLR) colonies on frame with partitioned honeycomb, and (d) QLR colonies on frame holding wire screen cages. In addition to mass storage, the queens were individually wintered in colonies held in Kirchainer mating hives and in 5-frame nucleus hives with standard combs as the control group. The queen survival in reservoir colonies was observed from October 2000 to March 2001. No queen survived the winter in QRR colonies, whereas 16.7% of the queens stored in screen cages and 40.5% of the queens on honeycomb in QLR colonies survived for five months. The queen survival in mating hives and in 5-frame nucleus hives were 80.0% and 83.3%, respectively. Reproductive performances of surviving queens overwintered in reservoir colonies, mating hives and 5-frame nucleus hives were evaluated by comparing brood areas and adult bee populations produced in test colonies. There were no differences in numbers of frames of bees and in brood production of queens in test colonies. Thus, mass storage of queens over the winter did not impair their reproductive performances.