8.1. Maintaining queens under in vitro laboratory conditions

Adult queens can be maintained safely in the laboratory when kept in cages with workers collected from brood frames from the same source colony as the queen. For up to five days, a queen can be placed in a standard queen cage provided with sucrose candy ad libitum and four to seven workers (Fig. 24); however, for longer intervals a queen should be maintained with at least 10 workers in a standard worker hoarding cage as discussed in section 5. To obtain and maintain virgin queens in the laboratory, a cell from which a queen is expected to emerge from within two to four days can be placed in a hoarding cage with workers (Alaux et al., 2011b) under appropriate incubation conditions described in section 6. When performing experiments, it is important for researchers to consider nutrients that should be provided to caged queens and workers because of the importance of protein to tissue and organ development (e.g. Hersch et al., 1978; Pernal and Currie, 2000). More detailed instructions on rearing and maintaining queens can be found in the BEEBOOK paper on queen rearing and selection (Büchler et al., 2012).


Fig. 24. Standard queen cages suitable for maintaining a queen and approximately five nurse worker honey bees safely in a growth chamber for up to five days when sucrose candy is provided ad libitum. Top and bottom images not equal in scale; black lines denote ~0.9 cm.

Figure 24