Artificial rearing of bumble bees Bombus terrestris selects against heavy queens

  • Published source details Beekman M., Van Stratum P. & Lingeman R. (2000) Artificial rearing of bumble bees Bombus terrestris selects against heavy queens. Journal of Apicultural Research, 39, 61-65.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Rear declining bumblebees in captivity

Action Link
Bee Conservation
  1. Rear declining bumblebees in captivity

    Beekman et al. (2000) reared B. terrestris in the laboratory over four years, with one to three generations per year, starting with the progeny of 47 wild-caught queens in 1993. A total of 170 colonies were reared altogether. Queens were mated in mating cages, hibernated for two to four months and induced to form colonies by confining with two to four honey bee workers in standard rearing conditions. They found a significant linear decrease in average queen weight over time, from 0.83 g in 1993 to 0.73 g in 1996. Since queens weighing less than 0.6 g do not survive hibernation, this change would be of concern in the context of captive-bred releases. Beekman et al.'s experimental results suggest it is caused by a nutrient deficiency, rather than inbreeding or reallocation of resources within colonies.

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