Free access
Volume 37, Number 5, September-October 2006
Page(s) 571 - 576
Published online 29 June 2006
Apidologie 37 (2006) 571-576
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2006036

Comparing alternative methods of introducing virgin queens (Apis mellifera) into mating nucleus hives

Juan Antonio Pérez-Sato and Francis L.W. Ratnieks

Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK

(Received 17 May 2005 - Revised 19 December 2005 - Accepted 28 December 2005 - published online 29 June 2006)

Abstract - Three methods of introducing virgin queens into mating hives were compared with the standard method of using a "ripe" queen cell. Virgins were introduced into queenless mating nucleus hives (5-frame medium Langstroth) using a wooden mailing cage with candy and attendant bees and were released three days later. When the caged virgins were 0-1 days old when introduced, the proportion giving rise to an egg-laying queen (65%) was almost as high as with cells (70%) (P = 0.63, $\chi^{2}$ test). Success dropped to 55% (P = 0.04) for 3-4 day old virgins. If the virgin was introduced into a queenright mating hive for three additional days before the colony queen was removed the success rate was only 29% (P = 0.001). Across all methods, most queen loss occurred in the introduction/emergence period, with only one third in the mating period. The time taken to start egg laying, which averaged 12.9 days from emergence, did not vary significantly among methods.

Key words: Apis mellifera / virgin queen / queen acceptance / queen introduction / queen rearing / queen cell / mating success

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© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2006