Final report for WPDP19-22
Honey bees are the most important pollinator of agricultural food crops, and the world’s food supply depends upon a healthy honey bee industry. Programs to select and breed honey bee stocks that are productive and less susceptible to diseases and pests are needed. Combining improved cryopreservation technology with the use of instrumental insemination (II), it is now possible to enhance honey bee genetic diversity, enrich selection for managed pollinators and to breed “through time and space” to incorporate progeny testing methods used in breeding other agricultural animals.
Honey bees mate in flight with multiple drones. Controlling mating is essential for a breeding program, and II of queens provides this capability. Currently, II in the US is largely restricted to research institutions, but the procedure is highly desired by the beekeeping industry. Cryopreservation of bee semen has also been reserved to research groups like the WSU bee program. However, recent inclusion of honey bee semen from US commercial stocks in the National Animal Germplasm Program, has demonstrated its potential for mainstream use in bee breeding.
A detailed set of written materials on the technique of II (Instrumental Insemination) was developed along with three training videos. The II materials manual was accompanied by an updated version of Susan Cobey's award winning video on II (Cobey 1998). A second video was completed on honey bee selection, augmented with graphic art and video enhancement to explain concepts and methodologies to conduct successful breeding programs. The third video was centered on cryopreservation, and its use in breeding programs and conservation.
The project culminated in a conference bringing together researchers, industry queen producers and extension specialists. The goal of the Conference/Workshop was to train the audience in the practical use of these methods so that they, in turn, can train beekeepers, queen producers and growers.
- Preparation of Instrumental Insemination Instructional Manual
Text Writing - May 2019 - Sept 2020.
Photography and Graphics - May 2019 - Sept. 2020
Final Progress: This objective was designed to provide step by step details of the techniques, the collection of semen from drones and the insemination of queens. Of critical importance to include for success are the specialized beekeeping practices required for the care of queen and drones, to the establishment of laying inseminated queens in colonies. Photographs of most of these procedures were prepared by 2021, although another active bee season (2022) was needed to complete these. Rather than a single Manual, the outcome of this objective was the production of 4 fact sheets (Eversion of the Drone Endophallus, Field Dissection of the Spermatheca, Insemination of the Queen, Semen Collection) and two mini-manuals (Harbo Syringe Users Manual, Schley Instrument Instructions). These fact sheets and manuals were used in training efforts and provided to participants of the Honey Bee Breeding and Reproductive Technologies Workshop (Objective 3).
2. Preparation of Instructional Videos/Training DVDs
A. Instrumental Insemination Text Re-Writing April 2019 - 2020.
Photography and Graphics - May 2019- Sept. 2020
Final Progress: The video, Instrumental Insemination, the script and filming were completed and available in spring 2022.
B. Honey Bee Breeding and Practical Selection Methods
Photography and Graphics May 2019- Sept. 2020
Final Progress: In 2020 – the video Selection Methods For Honey Bee Breeding, was completed and posted online.
We completed and released this video, Selection Methods For Honey Bee Breeding. The video provides an overview of basic honey bee genetics and a pragmatic approach to selection methods based upon behavioral traits at the colony level. Essential practices to rear high quality queens and drones, and how to increase control of mating areas are also emphasized. In this video we hoped to capture the in flight mating behavior. We successfully identified a drone congregation area and developed camera techniques to pivot and spin cameras to view the mating of a tethered virgin queen suspended and elevated on a 30-40 foot boom lift. Additional funding, $10k from WSU BioAG, supported this graphic augmentation effort. We were unable to adequately shoot this aspect due to the weather conditions, availability of the video crew and equipment. Overall, the video is a success and was awarded a Bronze Award for Educational Video from the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals. This video is currently, posted free online, and has received 2.4k views. The video is also featured in a Podcast discussion, Beekeeping Today Podcast, presented by Bee Culture Magazine. Links to the video and podcast follow.
C. Honey Bee Germplasm Cryopreservation
Photography and Graphics May 2019 – September 2020
Final Progress: The third video, Honey Bee Germplasm Cryopreservation, was completed in 2022. The WSU CAHNRS Communication Specialists; Video Producer/DirectorDarrell Killgore and Video Specialist Matt Ziegler filmed the footage and greatly assisted in putting this video series together.
- Honey Bee Breeding Conference 2021
Workshop and presentations on reproductive technologies (instrumental insemination and germplasm cryopreservation) and on Honey Bee Selection and Breeding methods.
The conference included presentations by the co-PI’s of this grant and other invited specialists and queen producers using advanced breeding methods.
Location – Washington State University Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory. Othello, WA
Progress: Due to Covid 19 restrictions and the difficulty of travel - we deferred the Honey Bee Breeding and Reproductive Technology Conference until summer of 2022. A number of beekeepers and queen producers attended the conference, including participants from the western region of the US, Asia and Europe, both in person and via Zoom. Key components of this conference were the on-site demonstrations and interactions in sharing information to advance breeding and insemination techniques and methodologies.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
1. Preparation of Instrumental Insemination Manual
2. Preparation of instructional videos on honey bee breeding germplasm cryopreservation and instrumental insemination'
Overall: to provide means for beekeepers to select and breed honey bee queens of high quality adapted for their particular needs
Individual fact sheets and manuals were produced that comprise the basic aspects of an Instrumental Insemination Manual (Objective 1) . These include: the production of 4 fact sheets (Eversion of the Drone Endophallus, Field Dissection of the Spermatheca, Insemination of the Queen, Semen Collection) and two mini-manuals (Harbo Syringe Users Manual, Schley Instrument Instructions).
All three proposed videos were completed and distributed as planned (Objective 2). The first video on honey bee selection and breeding provided an overview of basic honey bee genetics and a pragmatic approach to selection methods based upon behavioral traits at the colony level. Essential practices to rear high quality queens and drones, and how to increase control of mating areas are also emphasized. The Selection and Breeding Video was awarded a Bronze Award for Educational Video from the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals. This video is currently, posted free online, and has received over 2.4k views. The video is also featured in a Podcast discussion, Beekeeping Today Podcast, presented by Bee Culture Magazine. Links to the video and podcast follow.
Beekeeping Today Podcast Discussion http://beekeepingtodaypodcast.com
The video on Instrumental Insemination of Queen Honey Bees and on Cryopreservation of Honey Bee Germplasm was also completed and made available to beekeepers across the WSARE region and beyond. The Cryopreservation video produced by this SARE grant is the only video known to us that describes "how to" utilize these advanced techniques in honey bee breeding
Instrumental Insemination of Queen Honey Bee Queens Techniques & Beekeeping Practices
Selection Methods and Honey Bee Breeding
Cryopreservation of Honey Bee Germplasm
Educational & Outreach Activities
production of 3 publicly available videos, publication of 4 fact sheets, 2 min manuals and hosting of a concluding workshop on Honey Bee Reproductive Technology and Germplasm Cryopreservation
- Selection Methods for Honey Bee Breeding (Multimedia)