The effect of queen insemination volume on the growth of newly established honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies
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The number of female progeny that a honey bee (Apis mellifera) queen produces in her lifetime is directly dependent on the amount of semen she collects upon mating (i.e., insemination volume) and the number of viable sperm cells contained within the semen (i.e., sperm viability). Queen insemination volume has been shown to alter queen mandibular pheromone profiles, as well as worker behavior and physiology at the individual level. In order to determine if queen insemination volume has any colony-level effects, we compared the growth of newly established colonies headed by queens instrumentally inseminated with either a low volume (1.5 μL) or a high volume (9.0 μL) of pooled semen from May to October in 2013 and 2015. We did not find a significant effect of queen insemination volume on the production of worker comb, drone comb, stored food, worker population, or seasonal queen or colony survivorship. Therefore, we concluded that queen insemination volume does not seem to directly affect growth at the colony level, at least during a colony’s first year.
KeywordsApis mellifera colony growth instrumental insemination queen insemination volume
We would like to thank Susan Cobey for instrumentally inseminating the queens used in this study and Dr. Jane Packard for her help in the statistical analysis of the data. We also thank Lauren Ward, Elizabeth Walsh, and Pierre Lau for their help in data collection.
JR conceived and designed experiments, AP and JR performed experiments, interpreted data, performed analyses and wrote the paper. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
This study was funded in part by a USDA-NIFA grant to JR and NI (award 2015-67013-23170) and the Texas AgriLife Research Hatch Project TEX09557. This research was accomplished through support to AP from the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program at Texas A&M University
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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