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Effect of shipping boxes, attendant bees, and temperature on honey bee queen sperm quality (Apis mellifera)

Abstract
The fertility and fecundity of the queen are vital to the success of a honey bee colony (Apis mellifera L.). Young mated queens are shipped worldwide to meet the demand of the beekeeping industry. Since little is known about the conditions experienced by queens in transit from breeders to beekeepers and the importance of these conditions on the queens’ reproductive potential, we conducted a two-part study. First, queen shipments from the USA and Canada to Canadian beekeepers were monitored to measure thermal conditions during shipment. A total of 39 shipments were followed in 2017 and 2018. Monitoring revealed variable temperatures during shipment, with occasional periods of lows (10–15 °C) and highs (30–36 °C). Second, young mated queens were placed in different shipping boxes with or without attendant bees and exposed to one of three temperatures (6 °C, 26 °C, and 40 °C) for 2 h. We then compared the thermoregulation within shipping boxes, and the viability of sperm in each queen’s spermatheca. Our results show that both low and high temperatures significantly decrease sperm viability, and that the addition of loose attendant bees within shipment boxes helps maintain the temperature at 26 °C when exposed to low temperature and delays the temperature increase when temperatures are high. The study shows the potential to improve current honey bee shipping methods in order to mitigate variable conditions experienced by bees during transportation.

Rousseau, A., Houle, É. & Giovenazzo, P. Effect of shipping boxes, attendant bees, and temperature on honey bee queen sperm quality (Apis mellifera). Apidologie (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13592-020-00756-3
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13592-020-00756-3

So what we do about it? :scratch:
 

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Effect of shipping boxes, attendant bees, and temperature on honey bee queen sperm quality (Apis mellifera)

Abstract
The fertility and fecundity of the queen are vital to the success of a honey bee colony (Apis mellifera L.). Young mated queens are shipped worldwide to meet the demand of the beekeeping industry. Since little is known about the conditions experienced by queens in transit from breeders to beekeepers and the importance of these conditions on the queens’ reproductive potential, we conducted a two-part study. First, queen shipments from the USA and Canada to Canadian beekeepers were monitored to measure thermal conditions during shipment. A total of 39 shipments were followed in 2017 and 2018. Monitoring revealed variable temperatures during shipment, with occasional periods of lows (10–15 °C) and highs (30–36 °C). Second, young mated queens were placed in different shipping boxes with or without attendant bees and exposed to one of three temperatures (6 °C, 26 °C, and 40 °C) for 2 h. We then compared the thermoregulation within shipping boxes, and the viability of sperm in each queen’s spermatheca. Our results show that both low and high temperatures significantly decrease sperm viability, and that the addition of loose attendant bees within shipment boxes helps maintain the temperature at 26 °C when exposed to low temperature and delays the temperature increase when temperatures are high. The study shows the potential to improve current honey bee shipping methods in order to mitigate variable conditions experienced by bees during transportation.

Rousseau, A., Houle, É. & Giovenazzo, P. Effect of shipping boxes, attendant bees, and temperature on honey bee queen sperm quality (Apis mellifera). Apidologie (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13592-020-00756-3
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13592-020-00756-3

So what we do about it? :scratch:
Bernhard good post, helps with the why. I have also read, not sure where, that there is a time when the queen is ramping up to full laying when If she is shut down IE for shipping, some of the times she cannot get to her full potential. Something about that first ramp up to all the way on seems critical not to stop. We know queens shut down to swarm or for the winter but they are fully developed, not :developing" or partially developed. So in the rush to "fill orders" not sure if this is considered. And there is the "ship it any way" for some marginal queens.
Many have standards or principles, not all do. As we have seen there are a rare few who seem to lose track of principles. Perhaps a few capturing queens who are new and not sure what to look for. All in All mailed Queens have their challenges. maybe a better mailing container, insulated, whatever would help. I guess if possible pick up your breeder queens yourself.
GG
 

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Bernhard good post, helps with the why. I have also read, not sure where, that there is a time when the queen is ramping up to full laying when If she is shut down IE for shipping, some of the times she cannot get to her full potential. Something about that first ramp up to all the way on seems critical not to stop.

Typical large scale queen producers use tiny hives where the queen is IMO, not fully able to ramp up for lack of cells. Furthermore, queens in these hives are caught on a 'what?' 2 week rotation, or perhaps 15 days.

In spite of this huge numbers of queens are successfully mated and shipped annually from mild climates to more extreme climates with great success and benefits all around, IMO.
 

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Anybody have access to the two articles linked above without paying 35-40 dollars?
 

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Anybody have access to the two articles linked above without paying 35-40 dollars?
If you have facebook account, over on the right , Click rent article, looks like you can have a 2 week trial. I do not Facebook so I did not click thru
GG
 

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They say that there is seldom anything new in the world of beekeeping.

From the ABJ, 1861 :
EFFECTS OF COLD ON SPERMATOZOA.
Dzierzon and Berlepsch have remarked that a queen bee exposed for some time to a temperature below the freezing point, becomes incompetent to lay worker-eggs. Berlepsch attributes the result to the freezing of the spermatozoa.
Last Winter, I exposed a normally fertile queen to a degree of cold ranging from 25° to 80° Fahr.; and then returned her to her hive, after she had revived, she laid no worker-eggs subsequently. Three weeks later, I killed and dissected her. Under a microscope of 400 lincar magnifying power, the contents of the spermatheca presented the appearance of a homogenous fluid, totally devoid of spermatozoa. It seems, hence, that the spermatozoa not only lose the power of motion, but are really decomposed by the action or effects of frost.
Donhoff.
So it would appear that spermatozoa are indeed temperature-sensitive - something to be aware of with early shipments when the Queen may encounter one or more chilly nights during transit.
LJ
 
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