Queen traits and colony size of four bumblebee species of China
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Bumblebee pollination efficiency is significantly affected by colony size, which differs among different bumblebee species. Bumblebee colonies are initiated by a single queen; thus queen traits have an important influence on colony development. To make better use of native bumblebee species and select bumblebee species for commercial rearing, queens from four bumblebee species in China, Bombus terrestris, B. lantschouensis, B. patagiatus and B. ignitus, were reared and studied to determine whether differences in queen traits and colony size occur at the interspecific level. In our study, the four bumblebee species differed significantly in colony size, queen body length, spermatheca size and sperm quantity. The queens of the four species mated only once. Among these four bumblebee species, the species with more sperm in the queen’s spermatheca usually exhibited a larger colony size. The quantity of sperm in the queen’s spermatheca might serve as an indicator for selecting bumblebee species with commercial rearing potential. However, our study involved only four bumblebee species; more bumblebee species are needed to confirm the correlation between queen sperm quantity and colony size.
KeywordsBombus Native species Rearing characteristics Resource selection
Thanks to Shiwen Zhang, Aiping Han, Zhengying Miao, and Fangzhi Han for the wild queen collection work; to Wenbo Zhang for the bumblebee rearing work; to Paul H. Williams for identifying the bumblebee species; to reviewers for their comments and hard work; and to Cheng Sun and Yanjie Liu for their helpful discussions.
JA conceived the research and designed the paper. HZ performed the research, analysed the data and wrote the paper. ZZ performed the research and analysed the data along with HZ. JH performed the research and improved the paper. XY and GD performed the research.
This work was supported by the Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Programme (CAAS-ASTIP-2015-IAR) and the Natural Science Foundation of China (31672500, U1603108).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
We have no competing interests.
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