Holding virgins for insemination - Bank, nuc or incubator??
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  1. #1

    Default Holding virgins for insemination - Bank, nuc or incubator??

    Hi
    Please can a breeder help me out understanding the process for holding queens for insemination? Both before insemination and after. I'm having a play with insemination but success is patchy at present so would like to clear up this part of the process.

    When I've bought inseminated queens from a particular supplier in the past there was a high rate of Supercedure at introduction. Someone else, who would be consider this suppliers competitor so not a neutral voice said to me "its because they don't go back into the same nuc they came out of, they just get banked and shipped out".

    Is there truth in this statement? Do virgins for insemination need to go in and out into the same mating nuc with you preventing any extra mating flight?

    Or can virgins be born into a bank and then inseminated? Can they go back to the bank or need to lay up in a nuc before shipping or a hive?

    Can virgins be born into an incubator and kept there until after insemination and then into nuc, bank or shipping? Are incubators just for freeing up cell finishers? My virgins become wet after 4 days but do survive for 10 (just as a test, they don't look up to being inseminated at any point after 3 days but are still to young).

    Are there other scenarios I've not thought of? I realise there are different ways of doing the same thing..

    I would appreciate any help so I don't waste more money and another season

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    Santa Cruz, CA USA
    Posts
    77

    Default Re: Holding virgins for insemination - Bank, nuc or incubator??

    Thanks for the question. I want to know what to do with virgin queens. How many bees should I put them with? Saw a documentary where they were placed in a TINY box with just a few attendants. My last go with virgins was a complete bust. No mated queens returned.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
    Posts
    1,566

    Default Re: Holding virgins for insemination - Bank, nuc or incubator??

    Checkout:
    Comparing Alternative Methods for Holding Virgin Honey Bee Queens for One Week in Mailing Cages before Mating, Ratnieks et al., 2012 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/art...ne.0050150.pdf

    There seems to be an assumption within that paper - and indeed elsewhere - that the newly emerged virgin queen's development is fully complete, and that all that's required thereafter is some kind of feed just to keep her alive. Indeed, in the above paper three foods were trialled: honey, candy, and a honey/candy mix - all of which are carbohydrate-based diets of course. But in practice there was a fourth food supplied (a somewhat flawed experimental procedure ... ?), which would have been that provided by attendants, and which increased survival by 35%. I suspect that an even higher figure would have been achieved if more attendants had been provided along with a rich source of protein for their diet.

    There are two imminent events in the life of a virgin queen: the mating flight (except when using AI of course), and the prospect of egg-laying very soon thereafter. To develop significant quantities of eggs undoubtedly requires a protein-rich diet. Now we know that workers constantly feed an established laying queen - but with what ? Honey - or chyle ?
    On balance, I think it is only reasonable to assume that they feed her chyle - so why not feed the same to a queen-in-waiting ?

    For that reason, I'd recommend keeping newly emerged virgins either in nucs or banks with plenty of well fed attendants. Those that I've kept held in an unattended incubator (during my very short experience at doing this), I've seen 'begin to go down-hill' after just 2 days.

    My thanks to msl and JWP for recommending banking - that's exactly what I'll be doing next year.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
    Posts
    1,566

    Default Re: Holding virgins for insemination - Bank, nuc or incubator??

    Comparison studies of instrumentally inseminated and naturally mated honey bee queens and factors affecting their performance. Susan W Cobey, 2007 https://www.apidologie.org/articles/...7/04/m6107.pdf

    In a series of studies, Woyke (1988, 1989a) observed that virgin queens confined to cages in nursery colonies and inseminated past their receptive mating age store less sperm, are delayed in the onset of oviposition and are subject to injury from aggressive worker bees.
    The practice of banking queens was also observed to negatively effect queen weight and attractiveness. Szabo and Townsend (1974) observed that heavier queens are more attractive.
    Confined to cages, queens may not receive adequate nutrition. A protein rich diet is essential for egg development and lack of sufficient feeding of protein may contribute to delayed onset of oviposition. Queens confined to cages after insemination and later introduced into individual colonies are slower to begin egg laying and store fewer sperm cells (Wilde, 1994b). This may also delay pheromone development in queens.
    Wilde (1994a, b) also observed the effect of different conditions in which queens are kept before and after insemination; free in nuclei and caged, with or without attendant bees, and compared these to NMQs in nuclei. The IIQs kept with worker bees laid sooner and stored more sperm cells than those caged without bees. During the second season, queens that had been kept in boxes with 200 worker bees produced more brood, although the differences were not significant.

    .................................................. ........................

    The above is the only reference I've found so far with regard to the importance of post-emergence feeding - I'll keep looking ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  6. #5

    Default Re: Holding virgins for insemination - Bank, nuc or incubator??

    Quote Originally Posted by BritishBee View Post
    Do virgins for insemination need to go in and out into the same mating nuc with you preventing any extra mating flight?
    The mating flight is prevented with an excluder in the entrance. I mark with numbers the nucs and cages. This way the queens, when giving them the first round of CO2 in a bunch of 10, I get them back in their own nucs.

    Quote Originally Posted by BritishBee View Post
    Or can virgins be born into a bank and then inseminated? Can they go back to the bank or need to lay up in a nuc before shipping or a hive?
    Yes , but they need attendants. They do it this way in mass production in Poland. Even the attendant bees need to be changed and more attendants(and larger cage) is needed in the later phase. In Poland they are sold without egg laying.

    Quote Originally Posted by BritishBee View Post
    Can virgins be born into an incubator and kept there until after insemination and then into nuc, bank or shipping?
    No.

    Quote Originally Posted by BritishBee View Post
    Are incubators just for freeing up cell finishers?
    Yes, althouht I have twice had a thermostat failure so I donīt use them any more.

    "Every queen must be born in paradise" said Brother Adam.

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