Free Access
Volume 31, Number 3, May-june 2000
Page(s) 421 - 429
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2000132

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.

Keywords: Apis mellifera / spermatheca / brood pattern / spermatozoa viability / sperm storage

Correspondence and reprints: Anita M. Collins

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