Sustainable multiple queen colonies of honey bees, Apis mellifera ligustica
Huo-Qing Zheng, Shui-Hua Jin, Fu-Liang Hu and Christian W. W. Pirk
Honey bee multiple queen colonies composed of several mated queens able to move around freely were produced by modulating biological factors that evoke fighting and queen elimination within the colony, mainly by ablating mandibles of queens to avoid inter-queen rivalry. Following this method, 128 colonies in eighteen apiaries were set up with multiple queens, all of which were mated and 6-12 months old. One hundred of the colonies (78.1%) retained all introduced queens. In total, 658 out of 733 queens (89.8%) were accepted after their introduction. The majority of these colonies experienced no queen loss for two months and most were still stable after six months. Of 80 colonies, 55 (68.8%) experienced no queen loss over the winter. These results show that our method is viable to produce sustainable multiple queen honey bee colonies for commercial use. In addition this technique will help to increase our understanding of basic questions of the evolution of sociality, such as division of reproduction and the evolution of polygyny.
Multiple queen colonies, monogyny, polygyny, mandible, young worker