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Exposing queens to high temperature affects their performance

Guarna MM, Joselow K, Pettis JS, Pernal SF (2017) Exposing queens to high temperature affects their performance. American Bee Research Conference, 12-13 Jan 2017, Galveston, TX. Published in Bee World, 93 (4), pp110.


The health and performance of honey bee queens is an important factor determining colony productivity and survival. Recent studies have shown that queens can be exposed to temperature extremes during transport and these temperature events can decrease the viability of the sperm stored in the queen’s spermatheca. We have initiated colony level studies to assess the effect of a temperature-induced reduction in queen sperm viability on queen and colony performance. We confirmed that queens exposed to high/low temperature have reduced sperm viability while showing no visible indication of poor health status. We then introduced treated and control queens to experimental colonies and observed a clear difference between groups. Treated queens showed a decrease in their performance as assessed by analysis of brood pattern and brood quantity. In addition, the productivity of colonies headed by treated queens showed lower adult population and honey production. We will discuss how these results can guide queen producers and beekeepers on queen handling and management decisions to reduce the need for frequent queen replacement and improve colony productivity and survival.

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