Instrumental insemination of queen honey bees is the process of directly inseminating a queen bee, a bit like the artificial insemination of other farmed livestock. Therefore, as with other

farming industries, this means that we can provide you with queens that can produce superior offspring to those naturally mated.

Instrumental or Artificial
Queen bee being instrumentally Inseminated
Queen bee being instrumentally Inseminated.

The term ‘Instrumental Insemination’ (II) was coined by Dr. Lloyd Watson who was the first to successfully demonstrate a technique in 1926. As Instrumental insemination has grown in popularity, it is often referred to as artificial insemination. This is a more understood term, though we prefer the term Instrumental Insemination as it appears to only refer to honey bees.

 

Instrumental Insemination Techniques.

There are a number of techniques for

II Queen on comb
Instrumentally Inseminated Queen on comb 

instrumental insemination which have been developed. Though all require time and practise to be perfected, they achieve the same result with a variety of equipment. Susan Cobey has produced a video on instrumental insemination which can be viewed here, for those who wish to learn more. She also touches on some of the different insemination units used. Once perfected, the use of II in queen breeding has many advantages which can lead to improved breeding stock.

 

We also stock II Equipment, you can visit our shop here. If you require any help in sourcing and setting up equipment please feel free to contact us. We can also arrange to provide training for you.

Advantages of Instrumental Insemination.

The II of honey bee queens has gone under much scrutiny in recent years with many comparisons made between II queens and naturally mated queens. It has been found that II queens can be as productive as naturally mated queens. They also maintain productivity for the same length of time if not longer. One distinct advantage of II is that the insemination of queens is consistent, each queen receives enough semen to fill her spermatheca, unlike natural mating. Natural mating can be poor early and late in the season and if the weather is bad, with no way of knowing how successful matings were.

Caged Virgin queens being marked before II
Caged virgin queens after being marked ready for insemination

Another important advantage of Instrumental Insemination is that it provides us with complete control of the queens mating. This means that we can select according to the queens genetic qualities and select drones from drone mothers with complimentary attributes.

We feel that II queens can be used to bring good quality genetics into your breeding stock. With the advantage of higher selectivity it means that we can maintain proven breeding lines and improve them. This allows us to offer you high quality queens from a number of breeding lines. All our lines are bred here in the UK and inseminated by us. Therefore you know exactly where your queens have come from.

 

 

 

 

Instrumental insemination of queen honey bees

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