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Open access

Dariusz Gerula, Beata Panasiuk, Paweł Węgrzynowicz and Małgorzata Bieńkowska

Instrumental Insemination of Honey Bee Queens During Flight Activity Predisposition Period 2. Number of Spermatozoa in Spermatheca

The effect of the instrumental insemination of honeybee queens after they performed their orientation flight or attempted to perform the flight, on the number of sperm in the spermatheca was observed. Naturally mated queens and instrumentally inseminated queens were examined. Queens were instrumentally inseminated under one of the following 4 circumstances: the instrumentally inseminated queens were either 7 day olds and had been given either a short or long-CO2 treatment, or they were inseminated after the trial flight or after returning from the orientation flight. Queens from the various groups had a similar number of spermatozoa in their spermatheca (on average, from 4.7 to 5.3 million). The number of spermatozoa filling the spermatheca influenced both the color and the texture of spermathecae. Significant differences in the number of spermatozoa were stated. Instrumentally inseminated queens that did not lay eggs had significantly less spermatozoa in their spermathecae (3.9 mln) than egg laying queens (5.5 mln).

Open access

Małgorzata Bieńkowska, Beata Panasiuk, Paweł Węgrzynowicz and Dariusz Gerula

Effect of Different Carbon Dioxide Gas Concentrations Used During the Insemination of Honey Bee Queens on Starting Oviposition

The experiment was conducted in 2004, 2005 and 2007 at the Research Institute of Pomology and Floriculture, Apiculture Division in Puławy, Poland. Carniolan sister queens at the age of 7 days were inseminated with an 8μl dose of semen. Queens were anesthetized once during the insemination with different concentrations of carbon dioxide and air gas mixtures. It took queens a shorter time to be narcotized when CO2 was given at higher concentrations. The timing was from 6.1 s when 100% CO2 was used to 95.5 s when 50% CO2 was used. Semen injection took longer in queens anaesthetized with CO2 at the lower 50% and 75% concentrations. The queens remained anesthetized significantly longer when higher CO2 concentrations were used.

Among 276 instrumentally inseminated queens, 88% started laying eggs before the end of the experiment and 12% did not start laying eggs, or died before the end of the experiment. The highest percentage of queens that did not start laying eggs or died was noted in the group anaesthetized with 75% and 80% of CO2 (16.4% and 14.5%). In the other groups, the percentage of queens who did not start laying eggs or died ranged from 7.4% to 14.5%. Different CO2 gas concentrations used for immobilization of bee queens during instrumental insemination significantly influenced oviposition of queens. Instrumentally inseminated bee queens began laying eggs 4 to 55 days after the insemination. The significantly shortest time from insemination to oviposition was noted in queens that were narcotized with 50, 100 and 90% of CO2 (17.4, 17.6 and 19.9 days respectively). The longest time was noted in queens treated with 75-80% of CO2 (after 22 days).

Open access

Dariusz Gerula, Beata Panasiuk, Małgorzata Bieńkowska and Paweł Węgrzynowicz

Abstract

During natural mating honeybee queens can get lost due to drifting, predators or other cases. In this work, the balling of queens returning from flights by worker bees originating from the same colony was observed. Three subspecies of bees Carniolan, Caucasian and European Black Bee were tested. Research was conducted in both spring and summer, but in the former in newly created colonies, while in the latter in new and earlier used ones. Generally 15.2% of queens were balled and in total 30.2% of queens were lost during mating flights. 269 queens performed 785 mating flights, and 5.2% of those finished with balling. Three times more queens were balled when returning from mating flight rather than orientation flight. Subspecies matches or mismatches of queens and workers in nucleuses did not significantly affect the balling or its frequency. Additionally, no bee subspecies characterized stronger tendencies to ball a queen. Worker bees from newly created nucleuses treated queens similarly to the ones in nucleuses earlier used. However, significantly more queens had been balled during the spring in comparison to summer. There were days with higher balling of queens. During some days the weather was very unstable and unpredictable with such anomalies as heat waves, thunderstorms or sudden drops in insolation. Most of the queens were balled at the entrance while returning from flight and only a few inside the hive. In the research, clear causes of balling were not found, but some factors can be excluded.

Open access

Paweł Węgrzynowicz, Dariusz Gerula, Małgorzata Bieńkowska and Beata Panasiuk

Abstract

Winter honey bee losses were evaluated during the two overwintering periods of 2009/2010 and 2010/2011. The research included dead bee workers that fell on the hive bottom board (debris) and the ones that flew out of the hive. Differences were observed in the number of bees fallen as debris between the two periods, whereas the number of bees flying out was similar in both years. No differences were found between the numbers of dead bees in strong and weak colonies. The percentage of bees flying out of the colony increased in the presence of Nosema spores, Varroa infestation, increased average air temperature, and insolation during the day. In addition, both the presence of Nosema and insolation during the day had an impact on the number of bees that died and fell on the hive board.

Open access

Dariusz Gerula, Paweł Węgrzynowicz, Beata Panasiuk, Małgorzata Bieńkowska and Wojciech Skowronek

Abstract

Honey bee queens were inseminated with diluted, homogenised semen collected from a few dozen drones. This procedure was carried out to increase the diversity of the queens’ offspring, which is in comparison to the offspring of queens inseminated with semen from only a few drones coming from one colony. Queens and drones were mated within carniolan bee (Apis mellifera carnica) subspecies, but 3 selected lines were used. Queens were reared from one line and drones from the same line, and two additional lines differing in hygienic behaviour wherein in one of them that trait was strongly evident. The aim of this study was to examine whether the level of enhanced genetic variability in colonies and simultaneously the participation of hygienic bees, would increase the performance of hygienic behaviour. Overall hygienic behaviour of colonies with a lower and greater genetic variability did not differ significantly and amounted to 52.1 and 47.0%, respectively. Colonies within the lower variability group, in which drones from line selected in hygienic behaviour performance were used for inseminating queens, had a significantly greater percent of cleaned pupae than other colonies (63.2%). Hygienic behaviour in other colonies was more dependent on the gene quotas of hygienic bees in the colonies rather than on the level of polyandry.

Open access

Dariusz Gerula, Paweł Węgrzynowicz, Beata Panasiuk, Małgorzata Bieńkowska and Wojciech Skowronek

Abstract

The aim of the study was to determine the effect of honey bee worker diversity within the colony on: development, honey productivity, and wintering. Two different levels of diversity within the colony were tested. The appropriate levels of diversity within the colony were obtained by selecting drones for inseminating the queens. Lower genetic diversity was obtained in the colonies headed by a queen inseminated with semen collected from drones originating from a single colony. Higher genetic diversity was obtained in the colonies with queens inseminated with semen from drones of 30 different colonies. Colonies with a higher genetic variation of workers in the colonies had greater levels of functional characteristics. However, apart from the number of dead bees in winter, the genetic diversity level of the workers on the colony development and honey production, did not have a significant influence. There was an averaging effect observed concerning that male component in the colonies with a higher genetic variation of workers - on honey yield, when compared to the non-additive effect of the best drones.

Open access

Beata Panasiuk, Małgorzata Bieńkowska, Dariusz Gerula and Paweł Węgrzynowicz

Abstract

The susceptibility of bee larvae to Ascosphaera apis infestation and the hygienic behaviour of worker bees in relation to A. apis infected and freeze-killed brood were evaluated in three races of bees: Apis mellifera carnica, Apis mellifera caucasica, and Apis mellifera mellifera. Experimental bee colonies were evaluated in field conditions during the three beekeeping seasons. The lowest percentage of infected larvae was observed in car GR1 and mel A colonies (8.5% and 15%, respectively) and the highest in car Mr and cau P colonies (21% and 24.3%, respectively). Bees in the car GR1 and mel A colonies removed mummified brood in a shorter period of time (6.5 and 7.1 days on average, respectively) than car Mr and cau P colonies (above 8 days). Bees in the mel A and car GR1 colonies cleaned significantly more cells with freeze-killed brood within 24 and 48 hours (above 70% and 80% on average, respectively) than car Mr and cau P colonies (on average 10 - 20% lower cleaning rate). A low correlation coefficient was found for the susceptibility of larvae to A. apis infection and hygienic behaviour.

Open access

Cecilia Costa, Ralph Büchler, Stefan Berg, Malgorzata Bienkowska, Maria Bouga, Dragan Bubalo, Leonidas Charistos, Yves Le Conte, Maja Drazic, Winfried Dyrba, Janja Fillipi, Fani Hatjina, Evgeniya Ivanova, Nikola Kezic, Hrisula Kiprijanovska, Michalis Kokinis, Seppo Korpela, Per Kryger, Marco Lodesani, Marina Meixner, Beata Panasiuk, Hermann Pechhacker, Plamen Petrov, Eugenia Oliveri, Lauri Ruottinen, Aleksandar Uzunov, Giacomo Vaccari and Jerzy Wilde

A Europe-Wide Experiment for Assessing the Impact of Genotype-Environment Interactions on the Vitality and Performance of Honey Bee Colonies: Experimental Design and Trait Evaluation

An international experiment to estimate the importance of genotype-environment interactions on vitality and performance of honey bees and on colony losses was run between July 2009 and March 2012. Altogether 621 bee colonies, involving 16 different genetic origins of European honey bees, were tested in 21 locations spread in 11 countries. The genetic strains belonged to the subspecies A. m. carnica, A. m. ligustica, A. m. macedonica, A. m. mellifera, A. m. siciliana. At each location, the local strain of bees was tested together with at least two "foreign" origins, with a minimum starting number of 10 colonies per origin. The common test protocol for all the colonies took into account colony survival, bee population in spring, summer and autumn, honey production, pollen collection, swarming, gentleness, hygienic behaviour, Varroa destructor infestation, Nosema spp. infection and viruses. Data collection was performed according to uniform methods. No chemical treatments against Varroa or other diseases were applied during the experiment. This article describes the details of the experiment set-up and the work protocol.