New Laboratory System Allows Researchers To Probe The Secret Lives Of Queen Bees

Phys.org University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign December 3, 2018

Researchers at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois used specially developed 3D-printed plastic honey combs that mimic the hive environment, in order to monitor queen egg-laying behaviors. Credit: Bee Research Facility, University of Illinois

Researchers at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois used specially developed 3D-printed plastic honey combs that mimic the hive environment, in order to monitor queen egg-laying behaviors. Credit: Bee Research Facility, University of Illinois

More than a decade after the identification of colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon marked by widespread loss of honey bee colonies, scientists are still working to untangle the ecologically complex problem of how to mitigate ongoing losses of honey bees and other pollinating species. One much-needed aid in this effort is more efficient ways to track specific impacts on bee health. To address this need, a group of Illinois researchers has established a laboratory-based method for tracking the fertility of honey bee queens.

Co-first authors Julia Fine and Hagai Shpigler, both postdoctoral researchers at the University of Illinois, worked with others in the laboratory of Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology Director and Swanlund Professor of Entomology Gene Robinson to establish a laboratory set-up that would mimic the key aspects of the hive environment and allow detection of egg-laying by honey bee queens living with small groups of worker bees. The resulting system, described in PLOS ONE, allowed them to explore the relationship between worker nutrition and queen fertility.

"The idea that honey bee nutrition influences colony level metrics of reproduction has been demonstrated before, but here, we examined an old story using new tools," Fine said. "We were able to get a clearer picture of how nutrition can affect the relationship between honey bee workers and queens and how this can impact the queen's egg production."

Populations of many pollinator species have been declining in the US and worldwide. Studies of factors influencing wild and managed honey bee hives have identified four main factors influencing health: parasites, pathogens, pesticides, and poor nutrition. These factors can influence one another. For example, parasites may spread pathogens, much as fleas do on people, while poor nutrition might increase the likelihood of foraging on contaminated food sources.

Egg production is a vital aspect of honey bee colony function. Queens lay eggs that hatch into the thousands of worker bees that keep the colony running, as well as males and young queens to allow the colony to propagate. But in the dark, bustling interior of a standard hive, it is challenging to monitor egg laying or to evaluate the impacts of environmental factors.

"Egg laying occurs in the darkness of a hive occupied by thousands of workers and is therefore hard to track," Shpigler said. "Queen egg laying was never studied outside of the colony; the biggest challenge was to give the queens the right conditions for continuous egg laying outside of natural conditions."

To move queen productivity successfully into the lab, the researchers focused on the essentials of their natural environment. They developed a 3-D-printed plastic honey comb that they refined to mimic what a queen would experience in the hive, which ensured that the cage environment could be carefully controlled and kept pesticide free. They also provided each queen with a small group of worker bees to feed and support the queen; this element became the inspiration for their first experiments with the new system.

"Honey bee queens only ingest food in the form of glandular secretions provided to them by their worker caretakers, and queens are not known to lay eggs without the support of their worker bees," Fine said. "The more we worked in this system, the more it became apparent that the easiest way to influence the queen was to first influence the worker bees that care for her. Once we identified this strategy, designing effective experiments became easier."

Fine, Shpigler, and their coauthors provided each group of caged bees with honey, water, and sucrose solution, but varied the source of fat and protein: some bees were fed with a paste of honey and either a low or a high amount of floral pollen, while others were fed with bee bread, a mixture of pollen, honey, and secretions produced by worker honey bees that preserve and ferment the pollen. The researchers monitored how queen egg laying behavior was influenced by the type of diet fed to the workers caring for her.

They found that when a group of workers was fed pollen paste, the queen they attended was likely to increase her egg laying more slowly in the laboratory environment than a queen attended by bee bread-fed workers. This difference was most noticeable when the lower-percentage pollen paste was used, but persisted even in bees fed the richer pollen paste.

The results affirmed the importance of nutrition to queen productivity, as well as demonstrating the potential utility of the laboratory set-up for investigating other factors affecting queen behavior and health.

"The effect of the nutrition . . . was our first successful use of the system, giving us hope for more success in the future," Shpigler said. "The results show very nicely how the honey bee colony functions as one body, with shared digestive and reproductive systems. The workers are the ones that eat the food and the effect is on the queen egg laying—the superorganism in action!"

"It's been exciting to see the kind of quantitative data that we can generate with this system using fewer resources relative to studies that use full size honey bee colonies," Fine said. "Eventually, we hope that this system can be adapted as a risk assessment tool to identify other factors that positively and negatively influence honey bee reproduction . . . there is an immediate need for a laboratory system that can be used to quantitatively assess risks to honey bee queen health and reproduction."

More information: Julia D. Fine et al, Quantifying the effects of pollen nutrition on honey bee queen egg laying with a new laboratory system, PLOS ONE (2018). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0203444

Journal reference: PLoS ONE

Provided by: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

https://phys.org/news/2018-12-laboratory-probe-secret-queen-bees.html#jCp

Although Honey Bees Declining, LA. Faring Well

The Advertiser    By Greta Jines, Manship School News Service    December 8, 2016



In recent years, there has been considerable buzz about the health of one small insect: the honey bee. No one is sure why there is an increase in their premature deaths.

Despite the various reasons for decline, one thing is certain, says Robert Danka, research leader at the USDA Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Laboratory in Baton Rouge:  Whatever the root cause or causes, the short-term annual loss of honey bee colonies is a problem for beekeepers.
 

Danka said beekeepers in the past would lose roughly 10 to 15 percent of their colonies annually, a loss that was sustainable. However, they are presently losing colonies at twice that rate.  

“(Beekeepers) are working harder just to keep the numbers up,” Danka said. “…Some bee colonies die every year. But 10 percent is one thing. Thirty or 40 percent is something different.”

Even with the decline, which first became an issue 10 years ago, there has not been a decrease in production — as yet — he notes.

Danka said several causes, or stressors, threaten honey bee health. These include pests, parasites, pathogens, pesticides, habitat loss and overworked bees. 

In the Baton Rouge area, he noted, the expanse of student housing has contributed to the bees’ habitat loss. The land that’s now dedicated to apartment complexes The Woodlands and The Cottages used to house bees. 

Danka said honey bees have faced a variety of pests throughout the years, but the Varroa mite, from the far east of Asia, is threatening colonies of a European species of honey bee around the world, except in Australia. These particular honey bees are present at the USDA research facility here. The mite, which will only last for a few days if not on a honey bee, reproduces during a bee’s formation process. 

Although the federal facility engages in a range of tasks, Danka said, they have been identifying characteristics of mite-resistant bees and breeding bees for resistance to the parasitic mites for the past 20 years.  

However, Danka and Kristen Healy, an assistant professor of medical entomology at Louisiana State University, believe Louisiana has fared relatively well in terms of the overall honey bee decline.
 

Healy listed temperature as another honey bee stressor, noting that these bees typically don’t do well in cooler climates.  Louisiana’s warmer year-round climate is more suitable. 

Like Danka, Healy said it’s likely multiple factors contribute to decline instead of one root cause. 
   
“Think about how a human deals with stress,” Healy said. “You pile so many stressors onto an individual that it compounds the effects of each one of those stresses.”

Healy, along with several others at the university, is studying the effects of pesticides on bees, primarily the risk factors of toxicity and exposure. 

While she said some pesticides are worse than others, the goal is releasing the pesticides at night when bees are back in their hives. 

“Generally, beekeepers have pretty close contact with their bees,” Healy said. “…(With pesticides), it tends to be more acute mortality so you’ll see all of sudden a lot of dead bees in front of a hive.”

Chris Frink, an avid beekeeper and president of the Capital Area Beekeeping Club in Baton Rouge, currently has three honey bee hives in his backyard. 

Frink said he lost two colonies during the summer but attributed that to the excessive rain and wet weather. 

“(The weather) kept them from flying and might have made it easier for pests to flourish,” he said. 
Club meetings include discussions on how to test for Varroa mites and treatment and how to keep colonies healthy, he said.
  

“We’re not rescuing bees from extinction by getting backyard beekeepers going,” Frink said, “but we are raising awareness about the importance of bees to our food system, gardens and yards.”

http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/news/local/louisiana/2016/12/08/although-honey-bees-declining-la-faring-well/95180648/

Queen Replacement: The Key to Prevent Winter Colony Losses in Argentina

International Bee Research Association - IBRA   November 24, 2016

In recent years extensive losses of honey bee colonies have led to surveys of beekeepers, with much information now coming from Europe and north America. Much less information is available about colony losses elsewhere. Now, in a new paper published in the Journal of Apicultural Research, Agostina Giacobino and colleagues at the Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria, Rafaela, Argentina describe a survey of Argentinian colony losses during the 2013-14 winter.

Varroa mite infestation, colony strength, and winter colony losses were evaluated in 62 apiaries distributed in four different regions in east-central Argentina. Data regarding management practices in each apiary were also collected by means of a questionnaire. The key result was that beekeepers who reported replacing less than 50% of the queens in their apiaries each year showed higher winter losses than apiaries who replaced more than 50% of their queens. Even considering that the winter colony losses can be explained by a complex interaction of factors, requeening appears as one of the most important management practices to reduce this phenomenon in Argentina.

The article is available here (free to view): http://www.tandfonline.com/…/…/10.1080/00218839.2016.1238595

IBRA Members taking the JAR option have access to all other papers in issue 55(4), and also have full access to all articles in the Journal of Apicultural Research back catalogue to Volume 1 in 1962. You can join IBRA here: http://www.ibrabee.org.uk/2013-05-01-02…/2014-12-12-12-06-01

USDA Research Identifies Factors Causing Premature Commercial Honey Bee Queen Failure

USDA ARS News Service   By Kim Kaplan  February 10, 2016

This honey bee queen (blue dot) has valuable genes so a wing has been clipped to prevent her from flying away. Photo by Garrett Dodds.BELTSVILLE, Md., Feb. 10, 2016—Temperature extremes during shipping and elevated pathogen levels may be contributing to honey bee queens failing faster today than in the past, according to a study just published by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists in the scientific journal PLOS One.

“Either stress individually or in combination could be part of the reason beekeepers have reported having to replace queens about every six months in recent years when queens have generally lasted one to two years,” explained entomologist Jeff Pettis with the Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, who led the study. The Bee Research Laboratory is part of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

Queens only mate in the first few weeks of life. Then they use the stored semen to fertilize eggs laid throughout their life. Queen failure occurs when the queen dies or when the queen does not produce enough viable eggs to maintain the adult worker population in the colony. Replacing queens cost about $15 each, a significant cost per colony for beekeepers.

Commercial beekeepers usually order their replacement queens already mated, and the queens are shipped to apiaries from March through October. Researchers questioned whether temperature extremes during shipping could damage the sperm a queen has stored in her body. During simulated shipping in the lab, inseminated queens exposed to 104° F (40° C) for 1-2 hours or to 41° F (5° C) for 1-4 hours had sperm viability drop to 20 percent from about 90 percent.

In real-world testing, queens, along with thermometers that recorded the temperature every 10 minutes, were shipped from California, Georgia and Hawaii to the Beltsville lab by either U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail or United Parcel Service Next Day Delivery in July and September. Researchers found that as many as 20 percent of the shipments experienced temperature spikes that approached extremes of 105.8° F and 46.4° F for more than 2 hours at a time. Those exposed to extreme high or low temperatures during shipping had sperm viability reduced by 50 percent.

“The good news is with fairly simple improvements in packaging and shipping conditions, we could have a significant impact on improving queens and, in turn, improving colony survival,” Pettis said.

Assessments of the queens sent in by beekeepers for this study found that almost all of them had a high incidence of deformed wing virus; Nosema ceranae was the next most commonly found pathogen.

Beekeepers had also been asked to rate the performance of each colony from which a queen came as either in good or poor health. A clear link was found between colonies rated as better performing and queens with higher sperm viability. Poorer performing colonies strongly correlated to queens with lower sperm viability.

“We saw wide variation in both pathogen levels and sperm viability in the queens that were sent in to us, and sometimes between queens from the same apiary in July and September, so there is still more research to do. But getting queens back to lasting two years may well be one of the links in getting our beekeeping industry back to a sustainable level,” Pettis said.

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency. The Agency’s job is finding solutions to agricultural problems that affect Americans every day from field to table. ARS conducts research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority and provide information access and dissemination to ensure high-quality, safe food, and other agricultural products; assess the nutritional needs of Americans; sustain a competitive agricultural economy; enhance the natural resource base and the environment and provide economic opportunities for rural citizens, communities, and society as a whole.

http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2016/160210.htm

Neonics Severely Affecting Queen Bees

Bug Squad     By Kathy Keatley Garvey   October 15, 2015

Everyone from scientists to environmentalists to beekeepers are clamoring for more research on the effects of neonicotinoids on honey bees.

How do neonics affect queen bees?

Newly published research led by Geoffrey Williams of the Institute of Bee Health, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Switzerland, indicates that neonics severely affect queen bees.

They published the article, Neonicotinoid Pesticides Severely Affect Honey Bee Queens, on Oct. 13 in the "Scientific Reports" section of Nature. The abstract:

"Queen health is crucial to colony survival of social bees. Recently, queen failure has been proposed to be a major driver of managed honey bee colony losses, yet few data exist concerning effects of environmental stressors on queens. Here we demonstrate for the first time that exposure to field-realistic concentrations of neonicotinoid pesticides during development can severely affect queens of western honey bees (Apis mellifera). In pesticide-exposed queens, reproductive anatomy (ovaries) and physiology (spermathecal-stored sperm quality and quantity), rather than flight behaviour, were compromised and likely corresponded to reduced queen success (alive and producing worker offspring). This study highlights the detriments of neonicotinoids to queens of environmentally and economically important social bees, and further strengthens the need for stringent risk assessments to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem services that are vulnerable to these substances."

Williams and his research team correctly noted that "a plethora of literature has demonstrated lethal and sub-lethal effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on social bees in the field and laboratory" but that much of that research was done on worker bees.

"In this study, we hypothesised that exposure to field-realistic concentrations of neonicotinoid pesticides would significantly reduce honey bee queen performance due to possible changes in behaviour, and reproductive anatomy and physiology," they wrote. "To test this, we exposed developing honey bee queens to environmentally-relevant concentrations of the common neonicotinoid pesticides thiamethoxam and clothianidin. Both pesticides are widely applied in global agro-ecosystems and are accessible to pollinators such as social bees, but are currently subjected to two years of restricted use in the European Union because of concerns over their safety. Upon eclosion, queens were allowed to sexually mature. Flight behaviour was observed daily for 14 days, whereas production of worker offspring was observed weekly for 4 weeks. Surviving queens were sacrificed to examine their reproductive systems."

They called for more research on the effects of the pesticides on queen bee reproduction:

"Current regulatory requirements for evaluating safety of pesticides to bees fail to directly address effects on reproduction. This is troubling given the key importance of queens to colony survival and their frailty in adjusting to environmental conditions. Our findings highlight the apparent vulnerability of queen anatomy and physiology to common neonicotinoid pesticides, and demonstrate the need for future studies to identify appropriate measures of queen stress response, including vitellogenin expression. They additionally highlight the general lack of knowledge concerning both lethal and sub-lethal effects of these substances on queen bees, and the importance of proper evaluation of pesticide safety to insect reproduction, particularly for environmentally and economically important social bee species." Read the full report.

Meanwhile, the University of California, Davis, just held a sold-out conference on neonics. The speakers' presentations (slide shows) are posted on the California Center for Urban Horticulture's website.

Everyone agrees on this: more research is needed.

Read at: http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=19248

You Asked: Are the Honey Bees Still Disappearing?

TIME.com By Markham Heid  April 15, 2015

Beekeepers continue to grapple with historically high death rates. And now something’s up with the queens.

Illustration by Peter Oumanski for TIME

From almonds to cherries, dozens of food crops are partially or totally dependent on honeybee pollination. And while media attention has waned, there’s still reason to worry about the country’s smallest and most indispensable farm workers.

Bee researchers first reported massive die-offs back in the 1990s. But the plight of the honeybee didn’t truly buzz into the national consciousness until the spring of 2013, when data revealed the average beekeeper had lost 45% of her colonies the previous winter. A mysterious phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder (CCD) further stoked the fires of public interest.

Jump to 2015. While last winter’s bee death data won’t be published for a few more weeks, things appear to be “status quo,” says Dr. Greg Hunt, a honeybee expert at Purdue University. Unfortunately, the status quo is grim. “We’ve been seeing about 30% loss in an average winter,” Hunt says. “The winter before last was particularly bad and got a lot of attention, but things have been bad for a while.”

Dr. Dennis vanEngelsdorp—a University of Maryland entomologist who helps collect and publish the winter death data each spring—says there are three “primary drivers” of honeybee loss: The varroa mite, pesticides and poor nutrition. He doesn’t hesitate when asked to name the largest threat to bees: “I’d get rid of the varroa first.”

Varroa mites, properly (and frighteningly) named Varroa destructor, likely migrated to the U.S. sometime in the 1980s. They attach to a honeybee’s body and suck its blood, which kills many bees and spreads disease to others. The varroa can jump from one colony to another, wiping out whole populations of honeybees, vanEngelsdorp explains. There are treatments that combat the varroa. But many small-scale beekeepers don’t use them. “That’s bad, because they can spread mites to neighboring colonies,” he adds.

Of the two other major bee-killers vanEngelsdorp listed, pesticides have arguably gotten the most press—especially a commonly used category called neonicotinoids. While considered safe for humans, research suggests neonicotinoids may be extremely harmful to bees and many other insects, and so have been banned in some European countries. But the amount these chemicals contribute to bee deaths and colony collapse disorder is still debated. “We don’t find levels of neonicotinoids that are indicative of widespread exposure or harm,” vanEngelsdorp says.

The third problem—poor nutrition—is likely the most confounding of the honeybee’s enemies.

“Bees need a varied diet of different pollens in order to grow into strong, healthy workers,” explains Dr. Heather Mattila, a honeybee biologist at Wellesley College. Unfortunately, a country once filled with meadows of diverse, pollen-packed wildflowers is now blanketed by crops, manicured lawns, and mown fields barren of pollen sources. “A green space can be a green desert if it doesn’t have flowering plants that are bee-friendly,” Mattila adds.

Combine a restricted diet with environmental factors like extremely cold winters and scorching summers, and stressed honeybee colonies are less able to resist the ravages of mites, pesticides, viruses and other potential causes of colony collapse disorder.

To fill nutrition gaps, beekeepers give their wares pollen supplements. Along with tactics like colony splitting, keepers can restore their bee supplies quickly during the spring and summer months. But Hunt says the cost to do this is large—and growing larger. “As long as beekeepers are willing to put more money and hard labor into it, we can come back and rebuild our colonies and numbers,” he explains. “But whether this is all sustainable is an open question.”

Mattila calls this a “Band-Aid,” not a cure. “I think we’re making the best of a tough situation,” she says. Both she and Hunt applaud companies and localities that have started letting wildflowers grow along the sides of highways or under rural power lines—places that used to be mown and sprayed with herbicide. The federal government has also taken steps to protect lands that offer honeybees (and lots of other insects) the sustenance they need. Mattila says every American can help these efforts by planting flowers and avoiding chemical treatments.

But she mentions another emerging concern when it comes to the future of America’s honeybees: The strange, abrupt deaths of many bee queens. “When I started working with bees 18 years ago, we’d replace living queens every two years,” she recalls. “Now queens die after half a summer. Nobody is really clear on why.”

The “Band-Aid” she mentioned might already be coming off.


 Read at: http://time.com/3821467/bees-honeybees-environment/

Queen Bee Microbiomes Differ From Those of Worker Bees

 DigitalJournal.com/Science   By Sravanth Verma     March 14, 2015 

Researchers from the University of Indiana have published the very first comprehensive analysis of queen honey bee gut bacteria, and have reported that these defer markedly from those of worker bees.

 

The gut bacteria (gut microbiomes) are generally transmitted through the maternal line, in contrast with the findings of the honey bee (Apis mellifera). Study co-author Irene L.G. Newton, also an assistant professor of biology at the University of Indiana said, “In the case of the honey bee, we found that the microbiome in queen bees did not reflect those of worker bees — not even the progeny of the queen or her attendants. In fact, queen bees lack many of the bacterial groups that are considered to be core to worker microbiomes.”

Unlike most other mammals, including human beings, honey bees' gut bacteria transmission takes place through the insect's environment and social context, which is referred to as horizontal transmission. Thus, the striking differences between queen bee and worker bee diet and environment are reflected in the microbiome. Queens usually consume protein-laden royal jelly and have very limited exposure to the outside world and the rest of the comb, besides her nest. Workers by contrast feed on “bee bread” and travel about quite a bit.

“In some ways, the development of the queen microbiome mirrors that of workers, with larval queens’ associated bacteria resembling those found in worker larvae,” Newton said. “But, by the time they mature, queens have developed a microbial signature distinct from the rest of the colony.”

Honey production and bee-keeping is a multi-million dollar business thanks to the many uses and benefits of honey. Bee keepers sometimes remove a queen bee and transfer them to new hives. Based on this study, such practices may not have a detrimental effect on colony health.

“Because the queen microbiome does not reflect the workers within a specific colony, the physical movement of queens from one colony environment to another does not seem to have any major effects on either the queen gut or worker gut communities,” Newton said.

The study titled "Characterization of the honey bee microbiome throughout the queen-rearing process" was published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, in February 2015.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/science/queen-bee-microbiomes-differ-from-those-of-worker-bees/article/428288#ixzz3V91zcwuS

The Environment May Change, but the Microbiome of Queen Bees Does Not

North Carolina State University    By Dr. David Tarpy, Matt Shipman   March 2, 2015

The Queen Bee is marked by a green dot. (Credit: David Tarpy)Researchers from North Carolina State University, Indiana University and Wellesley College have characterized the gut microbiome of honey bee queens. This is the first thorough census of the gut microbiome – which consists of all the microorganisms that live in the gut of the organism – in queen bees.

“We found that the microbiome changes as the queen matures, but the microbiomes of different queens are very similar – regardless of the environment each queen is in,” says Dr. David Tarpy, a professor of entomology at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the work.

The research evaluated the gut fauna found in honey bee (Apis mellifera) queens at every point in their development, from the larval stage through their emergence as adults capable of reproduction. The researchers also assessed the gut microbiome of worker bees in each queen’s colony to see if there was any relationship between the microbiome of the workers and the microbiome of the queens. The study found that a queen’s microbiome does not change when placed in a new colony – and the colony’s microbiome doesn’t change either.

“There are large, commercial operations that produce thousands of queens each year for sale to professional and amateur beekeepers,” Tarpy says. “Up until now, nobody has really asked whether a queen’s microbiome changes when the queen is introduced into a new environment.

“It doesn’t – and that’s a good thing. Our findings tell us that beekeepers who replace their queens aren’t disrupting the microbiome of either the queen or the colony.”

The finding also opens the door to new areas of study – such as whether a queen’s microbiome could be manipulated to improve her health or reproductive success.

“Now that we know placing a queen in a new colony doesn’t change her microbiome, it makes sense to see if there is anything we can do to the microbiome to improve the queen’s chances of success,” says Dr. Heather Mattila, Knafel Assistant Professor of Natural Sciences at Wellesley College and a co-author of the paper.

The paper, “Characterization of the Honey Bee Microbiome Throughout the Queen-Rearing Process,” is published online in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. The paper was also co-authored by Dr. Irene Newton of Indiana. The research was supported by a grant from the National Honey Board.

Read more: https://news.ncsu.edu/2015/03/tarpy-microbiome-2015/

Susan Cobey: Queen Rering and Instrumental Insemination

Bug Squad - Happenings in the Insect World   By Kathy Keatley Garvey   2/18/14

We know when spring approaches by the number of information requests we receive for bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey's popular queen bee-rearing and instrumental insemination classes.

Cobey, former manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis, and now with Washington State University (WSU),  is an international authority on instrumental insemination. She's perfected and taught the specialized technique of instrumental insemination for more than three decades. 

Based on Whidbey Island, Wash., Cobey maintains the New World Carniolan Closed Population Breeding Program, now in its 32rd generation. Her  independent research program focuses on the...

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Visit the Kathy Keatley Garvey Bug Squad blog at: http://ucanr.org/blogs/bugsquad/

Bee My Valentine

Bug Squad - Happenings in the Insect World   By Kathy Keatley Garvey  2/14/13 

It's nice to remember the honey bee on Valentine's Day. You'll see many Valentine cards  inscribed with "Bee My Valentine" and featuring a photo of a bee.

Many of those photos depict a queen bee, the mother of all bees in the hive.

To be a queen, she'll need to be fed royal jelly as a larva. The nurses bees feed the otther larvae a regular worker diet that includes pollen. 

"Queen larvae are fed royal jelly throughout larval development, providing a...

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Visit the Kathy Keatley Garvey Bug Squad blog at: http://ucanr.org/blogs/bugsquad/
Visit the Kathy Keatley Garvey website at: http://kathygarvey.com/