Effects of honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) queen insemination volume on worker behavior and physiology

Elina L. Niño*, Osnat Malka, Abraham Hefetz, Peter Teal, Jerry Hayes, Christina M. Grozinger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Honey bee colonies consist of tens of thousands of workers and a single reproductive queen that produces a pheromone blend which maintains colony organization. Previous studies indicated that the insemination quantity and volume alter queen mandibular pheromone profiles. In our 11-month long field study we show that workers are more attracted to high-volume versus low-volume inseminated queens, however, there were no significant differences between treatments in the number of queen cells built by workers in preparation for supersedure. Workers exposed to low-volume inseminated queens initiated production of queen-like esters in their Dufour's glands, but there were no significant difference in the amount of methyl farnesoate and juvenile hormone in worker hemolymph. Lastly, queen overwintering survival was unexpectedly lower in high-volume inseminated queens. Our results suggest that the queen insemination volume could ultimately affect colony health and productivity.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1082-1089
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Sandhya Advani, David Barnes, Trey Barnette, Tom Dowda, Joe Flowers, Amanda Hund, Bernardo Niño and Janet Teeple for their assistance in the field, and members of the Grozinger lab for critical reading of the manuscript. We also thank the two anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful comments and suggestions for improving the manuscript. Thanks to Tom Glenn for instrumentally inseminating the queens and to Tamar Katzav-Gozansky and Victoria Soroker for providing the photograph of the worker Dufour’s gland. This research was supported by Grant No. 2007233 from the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) to A.H. and C.M.G., funding from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to C.M.G. , and funding from the United States Department of Agriculture to C.M.G.


  • Honey bee queen
  • Insemination volume
  • Pheromone
  • Retinue
  • Supersedure


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