Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageResearchers create honey bee semen bank to fight colony collapse

By Jordan Howell     Jun 9, 2013 in Environment
Pullman - With no known remedy to combat the rapid decline in honey bee populations, researchers are attempting to create a honey bee sperm bank to enable genetic crossbreeding that will produce stronger, more resilient bee populations.
The team of researchers from Washington State University’s Department of Entomology hopes that their efforts will prove formidable in the fight against Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, which has killed off one-third of U.S. bee colonies in recent years, according to Wired.
“Multiple factors — pesticides, fungicides, parasites, viruses and malnutrition — are believed to cause the losses.”
The semen bank, known as the Washington State University Honey Bee Genome Repository, will be the first of its kind.
Researchers will extract semen from different species of drones and then freeze the semen using liquid nitrogen.
“In general terms, if you apply a tiny amount of pressure to a mature drone's abdomen, it will push out the semen, which can be collected in a syringe equipped with a capillary tube,” says the press release authored by Bob Hoffmann from the WSU College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences.
“The semen will be collected from the strongest and best stock in Europe, then injected into the strongest and best queen bee stock from the United States, thereby helping to strengthen and diversify U.S. bee colonies.”
According to the video, the aim of the researchers is to diversify the U.S. honey bee gene pool, which has remained relatively static since a 1922 ban on importing live honey bees.
By diversifying the gene pool, beekeepers in different parts of the U.S. will have access to bees that have been genetically engineered for specific climate conditions.
“The requirements to survive in southern Florida or southern Arizona are quite different than if you want to live in Maine or Michigan or northern Idaho,” says Steve Sheppard, professor and chair of the WSU Department of Entomology.
WSU aims to import three new species of bees into the U.S. and to integrate them into existing gene pools. The Italian honey bee is suited to a warmer climate, making it ideal for beekeepers in the southern U.S. For beekeepers in colder climates, WSU researchers are testing the Carniolan honey bee, native to the Alps, and the Caucasian honey bee from the country of Georgia.
“Beekeepers in colder climates want bees that are more reluctant to reproduce at the first warm spell in spring, as a cold snap could kill the vulnerable brood,” says the press release.
Susan Cobey, research associate at the Washington State University Department of Entomology, has even started a website offering custom insemination to beekeepers.
More about Honey bee, Sperm bank, wsu
More news from
Latest News
Top News