Skip to main content

An advance in the in vitro rearing of stingless bee queens

Abstract

Stingless bees are a diverse group of highly eusocial tropical bees and potential pollinators of natural and crop environments. Nevertheless, large-scale breeding for agricultural purposes still needs development. A bottleneck is the small number of queens generally found in the colonies of most species. A proposed solution is to develop in vitro rearing of stingless bee queens, which includes a technical support due to the massive liquid feeding of larvae. In this study, we tested the efficacy of in vitro queen-rearing techniques in terms of queen size, survival, and fecundity. We found that humidity must be kept high during the first 6 days of larval development and reduced thereafter to 75 %. In the most effective treatments, we obtained up to 97.9 % queen survival. We also found that queens not different in size from natural queens could be produced if sufficient larval food is provided. In vitro queens were able to mate and lay viable eggs. This methodology is also useful for several research appliances, like pesticide effect on bees, pollen quality effect in caste determination, and the use of genetic sources for selection programs, among others.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Figure 1.
Figure 2.
Figure 3.
Figure 4.

References

  • Almeida M.G. (1974) Aspectos bionômicos, ecológicos e genéticos da abelha Melipona scutellaris, Latreille (1811), PhD Thesis, University of São Paulo, Brazil.

  • Baptistella, A.R. (2009) Produção “in vitro” de rainhas e ocorrência natural de machos de Frieseomelitta varia (Apidae: Meliponina), Master Thesis. University of São Paulo, Brazil

    Google Scholar 

  • Baptistella, A.R., Souza, C.C.M., Santana, W.C., Soares, A.E.E. (2012) Techniques for the in vitro production of queens in stingless bees (Apidae, Meliponini). Sociobiology 59, 297–310

    Google Scholar 

  • Brodshneider, R., Riessberger-Galle, U., Crailsheim, K. (2009) Flight performance of artificially reared honeybees (Apis melliferra). Apidologie 40, 441–449

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Camargo, C.A. (1972a) Determinação de castas em Scaptotrigona postica Latreille (Hymenoptera, Apidae). Rev. Bras. Biol. 32, 133–138

    Google Scholar 

  • Camargo C.A. (1972b) Produção “in vitro” de intercastas em Scaptotrigona postica Latreille (Hymenoptera, Apidae), in: Homenagem à W. E. Kerr, pp. 3745.

  • Camargo, J.M.F., Pedro, S.R.M. (2004) Meliponini neotropicais: o gênero Ptilotrigona Moure (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Apinae). Rev. Bras. Entomol. 48, 353–377

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Campos, L.A.O., Costa, M.A. (1989) Determinação do sexo em abelhas XXVIII. Determinação das castas em Schwarziana quadripunctata (Hymenoptera, Apidae). Rev. Brasil. Biol. 49, 999–1001

    Google Scholar 

  • Campos, L.A.O., Coelho, C.D.P. (1993) Determinação de sexo em abelhas. XXX. Influência da quantidade de alimento e do hormônio juvenil na determinação de castas em Partamona cupira helleri (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Meliponinae). Rev. Bras. Zool. 10, 449–452

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cobey, S.W. (2007) Comparison studies of instrumentally inseminated and naturally mated honey bee queens and factors affecting their performance. Apidologie 38, 390–410

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cortopassi-Laurino, M., Imperatriz-Fonseca, V.L., Roubik, D., Dollin, A., Heard, T., Aguilar, I., Venturieri, G.C., Eardley, C., Nogueira-Neto, P. (2006) Global meliponiculture: challenges and opportunities. Apidologie 27, 275–292

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Darchen, R., Delage-Darchen, B. (1971) Le déterminisme des castes chez les Trigones (Hyménoptères, Apidés). Insectes Soc. 18, 121–134

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Engels, W., Imperatriz-Fonseca, V.L. (1990) Caste development, reproductive strategies and control of fertility in honey bees and stingless bees. In: Engels, W. (ed.) Social Insects: An Evolutionary Approach to Castes and Reproduction, pp. 167–230. Springer-Verlag, Berlin

    Google Scholar 

  • Engels, W., Rosenkranz, P., Engels, E. (1995) Thermoregulation in the nest of the Neotropical stingless bee Scaptotrigona postica and a hypothesis on the evolution of temperature homeostasis in highly eusocial bees. Stud. Neotrop. Fauna Environ. 30, 193–205

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Flechtmann, C.H.W., Camargo, C.A. (1974) Acari associated with stingless bees (Meliponidae, Hymenoptera) from Brazil, in: Proceedings of the 4th International Congress of Acarology. Saalfelden, Austria

    Google Scholar 

  • Hartfelder, K., Engels, W. (1989) The composition of larval food in stingless bees: evaluating nutritional balance by chemosystematic methods. Insectes Soc. 36, 1–14

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hartfelder, K., Engels, W. (1992) Allometric and multivariate analysis of sex and caste polymorphism in the neotropical stingless bee, Scaptotrigona postica. Insectes Soc. 39, 251–266

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hartfelder, K., Makert, G.R., Judice, C.C., Pereira, G.A.G., Santana, W.C., Dallacqua, R., Bitondi, M.M.G. (2006) Physiological and genetic mechanisms underlying caste development, reproduction and division of labor in stingless bees. Apidologie 37, 144–163

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Imperatriz-Fonseca, V.L., Zucchi, R. (1995) Virgin queens in stingless bees (Apidae, Meliponinae) colonies: a review. Apidologie 26, 231–244

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kaftanoglu, O., Linksvayer, T.A., Page, R.E. (2011) Rearing honey bees, Apis mellifera, in vitro 1: effects of sugar concentrations on survival and development. J. Insect Sci. 11, 1–10

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Laidlaw H.H.J., Page R.E.J. (1997) Queen rearing and bee breeding. Ed. Wicwas, Cheshire, CT

  • Maciel-Silva, V.L., Kerr, W.E. (1991) Sex determination in bees. XXVII. Castes obtained from larvae fed homogenized food in Melipona compressipes (Hymenoptera, Apidae). Apidologie 22, 15–19

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Menezes, C., Imperatriz-Fonseca, V.L. (2008) Multiplicação de colônias de Nannotrigona testaceicornis (Hymenoptera, Apidae) utilizando rainhas produzidas in vitro, in: Anais do VIII Encontro sobre Abelhas de Ribeirão Preto. Ribeirão Preto, Brasil

    Google Scholar 

  • Michener, C.D. (1974) The Social Behavior of Bees: A Comparative Study. Belknap Press, Harvard University Press, Cambridge Massachusetts

    Google Scholar 

  • Nogueira-Neto, P. (1997) Vida e criação de abelhas indígenas sem ferrão. Editora Nogueirapis, São Paulo, Brazil

    Google Scholar 

  • Prato, P. (2011) Ocorrência natural de sexuados, produção in vitro de rainhas e multiplicação de colônias em Tetragonisca augustula (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Meliponini), Master Dissertation. University of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil

    Google Scholar 

  • Ribeiro, M.F. (1998) Size Polymorphism Among Queens of Stingless Bees, in: XIII, p. 394. Int. Congr. IUSSI, Adelaide, Australia

    Google Scholar 

  • Ribeiro, M.F., Alves, D.A. (2001) Size variation in Schwarziana quadripunctata queens (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Meliponinae). Rev. Etologia 3, 59–65

    Google Scholar 

  • Ribeiro, M.F., Santos-Filho, P.S., Imperatriz-Fonseca, V.L. (2006) Size variation and egg laying performance in Plebeia remota queens (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Meliponini). Apidologie 37, 653–664

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Winston, P.W., Bates, D.H. (1960) Saturated solutions for the control of humidity in biological research. Ecology 41, 232–237

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We thank Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP) for financial support, proc. 07/50218-1 and 04/15801-0. We also thank Tomer Czaczkes for reviewing this manuscript.

Une avancée dans l’élevage in vitro des reines d’abeilles sans aiguillon

Scaptotrigona depilis /Meliponini/multiplication des colonies/méliponiculture/pollinisateur

Ein Fortschritt bei der künstlichen Aufzucht stachelloser Bienenköniginnen

Scaptotrigona depilis /Meliponini/Völkervervielfachung/Meliponikultur/Bestäuber

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Cristiano Menezes.

Additional information

Manuscript editor: James Nieh

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Menezes, C., Vollet-Neto, A. & Fonseca, V.L.I. An advance in the in vitro rearing of stingless bee queens. Apidologie 44, 491–500 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13592-013-0197-6

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13592-013-0197-6

Keywords

  • Scaptotrigona depilis
  • Meliponini
  • colony multiplication
  • meliponiculture
  • pollinator