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Effects of honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) queen insemination volume on worker behavior and physiology

Niño, Elina L., Malka, Osnat, Hefetz, Abraham, Teal, Peter, Hayes, Jerry, Grozinger, Christina M.
Journal of insect physiology 2012 v.58 no.8 pp. 1082-1089
Apis mellifera, esters, hemolymph, honey bee colonies, honey bees, insemination, juvenile hormones, overwintering, queen cells
Honey bee colonies consist of tens of thousands of workers and a single reproductive queen that produces a pheromone blend which maintains colony organization. Previous studies indicated that the insemination quantity and volume alter queen mandibular pheromone profiles. In our 11-month long field study we show that workers are more attracted to high-volume versus low-volume inseminated queens, however, there were no significant differences between treatments in the number of queen cells built by workers in preparation for supersedure. Workers exposed to low-volume inseminated queens initiated production of queen-like esters in their Dufour’s glands, but there were no significant difference in the amount of methyl farnesoate and juvenile hormone in worker hemolymph. Lastly, queen overwintering survival was unexpectedly lower in high-volume inseminated queens. Our results suggest that the queen insemination volume could ultimately affect colony health and productivity.