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Exploitation of comb cells for brood rearing in honeybee colonies with larvae of different survival rates



Exploitation of comb cells for brood rearing in honeybee colonies with larvae of different survival rates



Apidologie 15(2): 123-136



Selected genetically known virgin queens were instrumentally inseminated with semen of 2 of their sibs. This resulted in 3 groups of queens producing brood of 100%, 75% and 50% survival rate. The content of 210,780 cells were investigated within the brood area on both sides of every brood comb during 2 yr in 3 hives. The average content of cells within the brood area of normal colonies was 14% eggs, 21% larvae, 51% sealed brood, 9% empty cells and 5% of cells filled with pollen and honey. The proportions varied in different periods and between colonies with different brood survival rates. In summer, there was a high percentage of cells containing eggs in colonies with brood of decreased survival rates, and a low percentage containing larvae. In autumn, similar percentages of cells with eggs and larvae were found in all 3 groups of colonies. This indicated a high percentage of larvae being eaten by workers in normal colonies, at the end of the season. In summer, 15%, 20% and 30% of cells were not used for brood rearing in colonies with 100%, 75% and 50% of brood survival, respectively. There was a lower fraction of cells not used for brood rearing in colonies with decreased percentage survival of larvae than the fraction of diploid drone larvae eaten by the workers, indicating that the queens did not stop egg laying until all the bees had emerged from the comb. They deposited new eggs into empty cells shortly after diploid drone larvae were eaten. When compared to normal colonies less sealed brood was present in colonies with low larval survival rate. As a result, colonies with brood of low survival rate were less populous than the normal ones.

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