Artificial Insemination

Welcome to NZ Beekeepers+
Would you like to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.
Sign up

Alastair

Founder Member
Platinum
8,802
10,016
Auckland
Experience
Semi Commercial
I gave them 8 microliters. The sperm was very thick, It was very hot when I collected it I am wondering if it dried a little. Anyhow today one queen was dead, it was one that I messed up a bit and suspected it may die, it did. The others are alive and looking good so I have just finished putting them in introduction cages into mini nucs. Will see what happens in a week or so :)
 

Alastair

Founder Member
Platinum
8,802
10,016
Auckland
Experience
Semi Commercial
Hi Paul, I now have 2 compete units and tried to sell one, but no takers.

However I have decided to keep them both. There are so many people want to come over and "have a go", that 2 units are useful. I also do the semen collection in a tent at the drone production site, it's too much hassle carting all the gear back and forth every time so I leave a lot of it in the tent and have the other unit at home for doing the inseminations.
 

Alastair

Founder Member
Platinum
8,802
10,016
Auckland
Experience
Semi Commercial
I had a look last friday and only 6 of them were laying eggs, and most of the others were quite small not even close to laying yet, which is rather worrisome, normally almost all of them would be laying within a week. So I am having another look at them tomorrow, which will be two weeks, anything not laying by then will be a fail.
As I mentioned already the semen was very thick and I suspected it had dried some, the heat was fierce when I was collecting it, this may be the reason. I have done some more reading of Sue Coby and she thinks the semen can dry so fast even in the capillary that she recommends taking a little saline up the pipette between every drone. I have never had this problem before but I have never collected semen in such hot conditions. From now I will be taking a little saline between each drone, and up the amount to each queen accordingly. I have experimented with adding saline before, and even diluting it 50% does not cause any problems.

Anyhow I will update the thread tomorrow after I check them but I think it may be a poor result.
 
  • Like
Reactions: CHCHPaul

Alastair

Founder Member
Platinum
8,802
10,016
Auckland
Experience
Semi Commercial
Oh there was one interesting thing happened, when I put the newly inseminated queens in the nucs there was one that I had somehow missed inseminating. But it had had a Co2 treatment with the others so I introduced it to see if it would still mate. When I checked last Friday it was laying eggs, so tomorrow I will see if they are drones or workers, will be interesting to see if it actually mated despite the Co2 treatment.
 
  • Like
Reactions: CHCHPaul

Alastair

Founder Member
Platinum
8,802
10,016
Auckland
Experience
Semi Commercial
Just checked out the mini nucs, sad story unfortunately, none of the queens that were not laying last week were laying this time either. So essentially, a big fail.

However I am pretty sure I know the reason, the semen as mentioned was very thick due I think to drying. Even when Ian and I were doing the inseminations we were talking about that and were concerned. Thing is I need to know why the semen was like that, most likely drying but I am also wondering if the high temperature in the tent might have caused it, don't know.

Any case from now on I'll be adding a little saline, as per Sue Coby.

As to the uninseminated one that had been Co2'd, it is laying well but larvae not capped yet, just a couple days away from determining if they are worker or drone.
 
123
86
Russia
Experience
International
It's hard to advise something when you haven't seen the process. I can guess what the reason might be....
1. You do not know the age of the drone from which you are collecting sperm. Perhaps you come across a drone that is too old; its sperm is darker and more viscous. In a normal drone it is lighter.
You need to be careful not to collect mucus together with semen.
2. When I worked with saline, I added an antibiotic to it. There must be an air cushion in the capillary to separate the solution in the system from the semen. Next, when collecting sperm into the capillary, use sterile cotton swabs soaked in saline solution with an antibiotic. They need to wipe the tip of the capillary from dirt, preferably after each drone. If you need to take a short break from work, do it like in the photographs - semen, air gap, saline solution. For saline solution, I use a regular syringe with a needle. They are convenient for moistening cotton swabs.
Direct contact of saline solution and sperm is not recommended, because it kills sperm, but I personally did not check it, I followed the recommendations.
3. Reduce the insemination dose.
After insemination, queens that are inseminated with large doses of sperm require maintenance by bees.1705687437846.jpg
 
  • Good Info
Reactions: Alastair

Alastair

Founder Member
Platinum
8,802
10,016
Auckland
Experience
Semi Commercial
Good advice, you and I do the same thing. Cotton swab with saline, air gap, do not take mucus, all that. For the antibiotic I use Gentamycin which does a good job. Re the saline killing sperm, study I read does not support that.

If you watch Sue Coby's videos you will see she gets quite a bit of saline in the sperm, a lot more than I do, she does not indicate it as a problem other than to say to factor that in when measuring quantity to put into the queen.

The guy who trained me uses a special mix with several antibiotics plus a food for the sperm. However I just use saline with gentamycin. Since it has always done a good job for me in the past I do not think it would suddenly be the problem now.

What I am going to change is deliberately adding some saline to the semen if it is an unduly hot day when I am collecting. I have used semen diluted with saline in the past and those queens have been able to head up full production colonies just as good as a naturally mated queen so I don't think it is a problem. Of course I do not know for sure, but I think the issue was dried thick sperm that the queens had problems properly transferring to the spermatheca. It is the only difference between that days inseminations, and the rest of the days with normal results.
 
Last edited:

Alastair

Founder Member
Platinum
8,802
10,016
Auckland
Experience
Semi Commercial
Just incase anyone interested, today I checked the uninseminated queen and her larvae are now capped and are worker. Meaning she did go and open mate despite that she was given a 7 minute Co2 treatment 5 days after hatching.

So that is interesting, because it means it is important to queen exclude the nuc entrances, as the queens still just might try to leave the hives to mate. Me, I clip one of their wings, which would stop them open mating, but would not prevent them attempting to take a mating flight from a hive with no queen excluded entrance, and result in them being lost.
 
123
86
Russia
Experience
International
Just incase anyone interested, today I checked the uninseminated queen and her larvae are now capped and are worker. Meaning she did go and open mate despite that she was given a 7 minute Co2 treatment 5 days after hatching.

So that is interesting, because it means it is important to queen exclude the nuc entrances, as the queens still just might try to leave the hives to mate. Me, I clip one of their wings, which would stop them open mating, but would not prevent them attempting to take a mating flight from a hive with no queen excluded entrance, and result in them being lost.
Alastair, the presence of a dividing grid on the entrance is mandatory for artificial insemination. It is believed that bees also stimulate the queen bee to perform a nuptial flight. Especially when the queen is a virgin. Depending on the design of the hive, the queen can be driven into the entrance and maimed, therefore, according to the rules, the grate is placed inside the entrance. This is according to the observations of European breeders. I have a grate between the box and the bottom of the hive. The problem, of course, is with the drone, which cannot pass through it, so you have to periodically clean it.
The first year I cut the wing the same way, and I was very surprised when I was returning the queen to the nucleus, when she took off and flew away from me... Queens with clipped wings fly, not high, of course, but enough to get lost. Usually they cut the wing to be on the safe side in case the special plastic mark on the queen bee's chest might fall off due to poorly applied glue. If I'm not mistaken, the left wing is an odd year, the right wing is an even year.
I remove the grid only when the printed brood appears. The artificial insemination queen's pheromone begins to be released late, so for bees, she has the status of a “virgin queen,” so there are nuances when introducing her into the hive. In a month she will be no different from queen bees of natural insemination
 
  • Good Info
Reactions: Alastair

Alastair

Founder Member
Platinum
8,802
10,016
Auckland
Experience
Semi Commercial
Thanks that is good info. I have been putting the excluder on the outside of the entrance, never thought of that problem, so will see if I can figure out how to put it securely on the inside. Not sure if I have lost any queens to that, but I have lost queens so that is a possibility.

I too have had queens with clipped wings fly, surprising what a strong queen can do. But at least they do not go far. It can be a problem if they have not left the hive before so have not learned the location, which is normally the case with II queens.

At this time I am using mini nucs which is a 3/4 depth box divided into 4. Although it sounds simple I have already had to make several adjustments to them to sort out some problem or other, looks like maybe come winter I will empty the bees and do some kind of insert to easily exclude the entrance from the inside.

Appreciate your input BOQK (y)
 

Alastair

Founder Member
Platinum
8,802
10,016
Auckland
Experience
Semi Commercial
And oh, today I killed two of the non laying queens and inspected the spermatheca, there was no sperm in them. Leading me even stronger to believe the issue was with the semen I gave them.
 
8,903
5,342
maungaturoto
Experience
Commercial
Question about that. If you use a reduced dose, can those queens still head up a production colony?
a local crowd, no doubt you know who, used to get in inseminated queens in and none of them ran production colonies. the few queens grafted from them became the breeder queens and they produced all the production queens.
the inseminated queens simply don't last long.
 

Alastair

Founder Member
Platinum
8,802
10,016
Auckland
Experience
Semi Commercial
Some of mine are running normal hives and doing OK. But they were inseminated with 8 microliters of semen which is kind of industry standard.

The reading I have done is that less amounts can be used if the queen is going to be kept in a mini nuc where it won't lay many eggs, or used for a short time to produce offspring then disposed of. Just wanted Breeder Of Queens Koss's thoughts on it as he seems to know about it. I would like all mine to be able to head a production hive as that is the only way you really know how the whole hive will do. Plus, I want to get drones from some of mine and to do that they have to be in a hive big enough to make the drones.
 
  • Like
Reactions: tristan


Top