Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Apidae) drone sperm quality in relation to age, genetic line, and time of breeding

Rousseau, Andrée; Fournier, Valérie; Giovenazzo, Pierre
December 2015
Canadian Entomologist;Dec2015, Vol. 147 Issue 6, p702
Academic Journal
A honey bee (Apis mellifera Linnaeus; Hymenoptera: Apidae) queen’s life expectancy is strongly dependent on the number of sperm she obtains by mating with drones during nuptial flights. Unexplained replacement of queens by the colony and young queens showing sperm depletions have been reported in North America, and reduced drone fertility has been a suspected cause. The aim of this study was to evaluate drone reproductive qualities during the queen-rearing season, from May to August. Drones from two different genetic lines were reared six times during the 2012 beekeeping season at our research centre in Québec (Canada). Semen volume as well as sperm number and viability were assessed at the ages of 14, 21, and 35 days. Results showed (1) a greater proportion of older drones with semen at the tip of the genitalia after eversion; (2) an influence of rearing date on semen production; and (3) no influence of drone genetic line, age or time of breeding on sperm viability. These results highlight the necessity of better understanding drone rearing and how it can be improved to ensure optimum honey-bee queen mating.


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