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11 February 2019 Effects of Temperature During Package Transportation on Queen Establishment and Survival in Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae)
James M. Withrow, Jeffery S. Pettis, David R. Tarpy
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Honey bee (Apis mellifera) (Linnaeus) (Hymenoptera: Apidae) queens, the reproductive female caste, are crucial for colony success, and many management problems that beekeepers face are related to their diminished reproductive quality and premature failure. Previous research has suggested that temperature extremes may affect the viability of stored sperm in queens' spermathecae, thus the abiotic conditions of queens during transport may be germane to these problems. We recorded the temperatures experienced by queens during 2 yr of package transportation and tracked the newly installed colonies through establishment and buildup. During this critical 6–8 wk period, we observed typically high rates of queen failure (~25%) but found no indication that these postinstallation queen events were driven by temperature-related damage to stored sperm (an essential component of queen quality) incurred during transportation. We also found no indication of significant hot or cold zones across the truckloads of packages that would suggest a problem in how packages are insulated during transportation. However, we did observe significantly higher temperatures (31.2 vs. 29.9°C) and lower temperature variance (8.8 vs. 12.2) in queens that ultimately failed during the observation period, indicating that workers may respond differently to these queens in a way that manifests as more insulating clusters around queen cages. If so, then the collective process by which workers accept or reject a foreign queen may already be detectable even if it does not ultimately conclude until some weeks later. Nevertheless, it remains unclear why large numbers of otherwise high-quality queens are failing in newly installed packages.

© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:
James M. Withrow, Jeffery S. Pettis, and David R. Tarpy "Effects of Temperature During Package Transportation on Queen Establishment and Survival in Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae)," Journal of Economic Entomology 112(3), 1043-1049, (11 February 2019).
Received: 18 September 2018; Accepted: 21 December 2018; Published: 11 February 2019

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honey bee
queen failure
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