13.4.3. Experiments on copulation

For experiments on copulation with live queens special preparations are required:

1. Keep the sting chamber of the queen open to allow copulation with the drone.

To achieve this:

1.1. Fix the queen in an apparatus for instrumental insemination.

1.2. Open the sting chamber with the hooks.

1.3. Deposit a drop of elastic glue (Pattex) at the outside of the joint of tergite and sternite of the last segment of the abdomen and allow it to dry.

Thus the queen cannot close its sting chamber (Fig. 33A).

2. Glue the queen to a wire at the thorax and the first and last tergites of the abdomen to prevent the queen from bending its abdomen when touched by a drone (Fig. 33B; Koeniger, 1981); the glue will be removed by the worker bees later without wounding the queen.

A queen carcass (last abdominal segment removed; Fig. 33C) or a wooden queen model with an artificial sting chamber (diameter from 3.2 to 4.0 mm and a depth above 1.6 mm) will also result in copulation (Gary and Marston, 1971) when 9ODA is added or when near a caged living queen.

A dummy can be fixed on a wire bent by 90° (Fig. 34). On one end, a small loop can tie the thread holding the dummy. The other side is fixed at the kite line with tape. This way, the dummy is swinging back and forth. The thread must be shorter than the wire bar, so that the dummy does not entangle itself with the kite line.

Drones of all Apis species tested so far have been attracted to a black wooden stick, 3.2 by 0.8 cm, impregnated with 1 mg synthetic 9ODA, the main component of the queen's sex pheromone. Blackened cigarette filters (2.4 by 0.7 cm) are also attractive, and Bee Boost can be used too. Bee Boost contains a precise blend of 5 pheromone biochemicals mimicking the queen mandibular pheromones. However, a black dummy has to be added since bee boost is sold in a transparent plastic release device.

Fig. 33A. Elastic glue (Pattex) must be dropped at the outside of the joint between tergite and sternite of the last segment of the queen to prevent it from closing its sting chamber B. Living queen glued to a thin wire. C. Queen carcass. The wire is pierced through the thorax to the last but one abdominal segment.

1293PN revised Fig 33


Fig. 34. Queen dummy bound to a wire, which is fixed with adhesive tape to the line.

1293PN revised Fig 34