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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Breeding, Genetics, Stock Improvement and Management of Russian Honey Bees for Mite and Small Hive Beetle Control and Pollination

Location: Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Research

Title: Seasonal inconsistencies in the relationship between honey bee longevity in field colonies and laboratory cages

Authors
item Rinderer, Thomas
item Danka, Robert
item Stelzer, John

Submitted to: Journal of Apicultural Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 1, 2012
Publication Date: April 2, 2012
Citation: Rinderer, T.E., Danka, R.G., Stelzer, J.A. 2012. Seasonal inconsistencies in the relationship between honey bee longevity in field colonies and laboratory cages. Journal of Apicultural Research. 51(2):218-219.

Interpretive Summary: Improved honey bee longevity in winter might result in larger colonies for almond pollination in February. Such improvement might be accomplished through selective breeding. Measuring winter longevity in field colonies is difficult but longevity measured in laboratory cages is easy. Hence, The relationship between honey bee longevity in field colonies and laboratory cages was investigated. The longevity of honey bee workers in cages started in the autumn was significantly correlated with the longevity of honey bee workers from the same cohort in field colonies. Bees from the same colonies in cages stocked in spring had longevities that were not correlated with the winter longevities of their siblings in hives. Feeding bees in cages with pollen increased their comparative longevity but did not improve correlations with field longevity. Seasonal inconsistencies restrict the value of cage studies of longevity for selective breeding to autumn.

Technical Abstract: Honey bee longevity during winter might be improved through selective breeding. Measuring winter longevity in field colonies is difficult and might be accomplished using laboratory cages. Hence, The relationship between honey bee longevity in field colonies and laboratory cages was investigated. The longevity of honey bee workers in cages started in the autumn was significantly correlated with the longevity of honey bee workers from the same cohort in field colonies (r = 0.52, P < 0.001). Bees from the same colonies in cages stocked in spring had longevities that were not correlated with the winter longevities of their siblings in hives (r = -0.162, P = 0.534). Feeding bees in cages with pollen increased their comparative longevity but did not improve correlations with field longevity. Seasonal inconsistencies restrict the value of cage studies of longevity for selective breeding to autumn.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014