The Effects of Miticides on the Reproductive Physiology of Honey Bee (Apis mellifera L.) Queens and Drones

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Virginia Tech

The effects of miticides on the reproductive physiology of queens and drones were examined. The first study examined the effects of Apistan (fluvalinate), Check Mite+ (coumaphos), and Apilife VAR (74% thymol) on sperm production and viability in drones. Drones from colonies treated with each miticide were collected at sexual maturity. Sperm production was determined by counting the number of sperm in the seminal vesicles. Sperm for viability assays was analyzed by dual fluorescent staining. Apilife VAR and coumaphos significantly lowered (P<0.0001) sperm production and coumaphos treatments caused a significant decrease (P<0.0001) in the sperm viability.

The effects of miticides on queens was examined by treating queen-rearing colonies and examining the number and viability of sperm in the spermathecae of newly mated queens. Queens from each treatment group were collected after mating and the spermathecae were removed and analyzed. Colonies treated with coumaphos failed to provide viable queens and were excluded. Apilife VAR was found to significantly decrease (P<0.0016) sperm viability. No significant differences in sperm numbers were found between treatments.

The effect of miticides on sperm viability over time was also examined. Drones were reared as described, but the spermatozoa were collected as pooled samples from groups of drones. The pooled samples from each treatment were subdivided and analyzed periods of up to 6 weeks. Random samples were taken from each treatment (n = 6 pools) over a period of 6 weeks. The exposure of drones to coumaphos during development significantly reduced sperm viability for all 6 weeks, and caused a large decline in week 6. The potential impacts of these results on queen performance and failure are discussed.

Drone, Queen, Miticides, Spermatozoa viability, Numbers of Spermatozoa, Honey Bee, Reproductive Physiology, Apis mellifera L.