Artificial insemination techniques and sexually transmissible diseases in honey bees (Apis mellifera)
Thomas Lesley Gillard, Thomas L. Gillard , Benjamin P. Oldroyd
Behaviour and Genetics of Social Insects Laboratory, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, The University of Sydney, Australia; Behaviour and Genetics of Social Insects Laboratory, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, The University of Sydney, Australia ; Behaviour and Genetics of Social Insects Laboratory, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, The University of Sydney, Australia
Advanced reproductive technologies including artificial insemination (AI) are routinely used in mammalian species to facilitate genetic selection and improve breeding outcomes. AI is also used in honey bees (Apis mellifera). Many techniques used in queen bee insemination were established in the mid-twentieth century, with limited technical advances since the 1970s. Many routine procedures have not been empirically tested to determine if they are necessary or desirable. My PhD project will critically evaluate common AI procedures. For example, carbon dioxide is used to provide narcosis and induce egg laying in artificially inseminated queens. However, the optimal timing, duration, and number of narcoses is not well understood. Queens are typically inseminated between 5 and 10 days of age, but is there an optimum? Should queens receive their second narcosis before or after insemination? A second aim of my PhD is to critically assess the biosecurity risks associated with importation of bee semen. Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) has been shown to be transmissible in honey bee semen, and can establish vertical transmission from affected queen to her progeny. Nosema spp. microsporidia have been identified in semen, and have been demonstrated to be transmissible by this route in artificially inseminated queens. Nosema and DWV are unlikely to be the only sexually transmissible diseases present in honey bees, so I will conduct a thorough survey of ejaculates to investigate the possibility of any other sexually transmitted diseases in honey bees.