Apidologie 31 (2000) 421-429
Relationship between semen quality and performance of instrumentally inseminated honey bee queens
Anita M. Collins
Bee Research Laboratory, ARS, USDA, Bldg. 476, BARC-East, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA
(Received 23 June 1999; revised 19 October 1999; accepted 15 November 1999)
Techniques to effectively store honey bee semen must meet some minimally acceptable level of spermatozoa
survival. To determine this level, honey bee queens were inseminated using various mixes of fresh and
freeze-killed semen, and were allowed to lay eggs in small colonies for three weeks. The queens receiving
all freeze-killed spermatozoa (0% fresh) had no spermatozoa in their spermathecae, and produced only
drone pupae (unfertilized eggs). The proportions of live and dead spermatozoa (determined by dual
fluorescent staining) in the spermathecae of queens receiving 25 to 100% fresh semen were not
significantly different at 27 days post-insemination. Queens receiving 50% fresh semen or more produced
only worker pupae (all eggs were fertilized). Therefore, a program to improve storage of semen should only
have to reach survival levels of 50% of the spermatozoa to have functional semen.
Apis mellifera / spermatheca / brood pattern / spermatozoa viability / sperm storage
Correspondence and reprints: Anita M. Collins
Copyright INRA/DIB/AGIB/EDP Sciences
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