In this three-year-trial study, we examined the quality of mated queens based on morphological and physiology traits. At each location, sister queen bees were reared each year from one Apis mellifera carnica breeder queen. Queens were also reared and mated in different locations. Altogether, we sampled and analysed 324 queens from 27 apiaries in 2006, 288 queens from 24 apiaries in 2008, and 276 queens from 23 apiaries in 2010. Nine queens from each apiary were sampled and dissected for morphological analyses and Nosema ceranae (N. ceranae) spores, if present, were quantified. Three queens from each apiary were prepared and tested for four viruses: acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV), black queen cell virus (BQCV), deformed wing virus (DWV), and sacbrood virus (SBV). The highest average queen weight of 209.49 ± 9.82 mg was detected in 2008. The highest average ovary weight of 78.67 ± 11.86 mg was detected in 2010, and the highest number of ovarioles was 161.59 ± 8.70 in 2006. The average number of spermatozoa in queens ranged from 3.30 x 106 in 2006 to 5.23 x 106 in 2010. Nosema ceranae spores were found in queens sampled in 2008 and 2010. Viruses were discovered sporadically during the queen testing periods from 2006 - 2010. This study importantly demonstrates that queens from rearing stations require regular evaluation for morphological and physiological changes as well as for infection from harmful pathogens. These results could also be used in establishing relevant commercial standards for rearing quality queens.
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