Factors affecting the production of honey bee queens (Apis mellifera L.) in Manitoba

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Dixon, Donald Peter
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Each year an increasing number of beekeepers are overwintering wintering their honey bee colonies for economic reasons. Thus, there is a great need for a reliable supply of queen honey bees for these colonies. In an attempt to solve some of the problems associated with queen availability, the following four aspects of queen rearing and queen supply were examined; (1) spring queen rearing in the laboratory using caged worker bees, (2) a comparison of spring reared queens from British Columbia with spring reared queens from the United States, (3) queen rearing during the summer in Manitoba, and (4) studies in the orientation of queens during orientation and mating flights. Caged worker bees that had been confined to hives throughout the winter did not accept grafted larvae or nourish accepted larvae as successfully as did caged overwintered worker bees that had taken recent "cleansing" flights... The introduction of virgin queens to queenless colonies was most successful when the queen was first caged in the colony for 24 hours and then upon release was sprayed, along with its surrounding workers with a sugar syrup, vanilla mix. Under some test conditions, queens were found to make orientation errors and enter the wrong colony. This usually resulted in the queen being attacked or expelled from the colony. Various orientation cues (i.e. landmarks) appeared to reduce orientation errors of the queens to a marked degree.