Gyne and Drone Production in Bombus Atratus (Hymenoptera: Apidae)
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1515/jas-2017-0005
For over a decade, our research group has studied the biology of the native bumblebee, Bombus atratus, to investigate the feasibility of using it to pollinate crops such as tomato, strawberry, blackberry and peppers. Traditionally, captive breeding has depended on the use of captured wild queens to initiate the colonies. The goal of the current work is to investigate conditions required to produce new queens and drones in captivity. In this study, 31 colonies were evaluated under either greenhouse or open field conditions over a 15 month period. A total of 1492 drones (D) and 737 gynes (G, i.e., virgin queens) were produced by all colonies, with 16 colonies producing both drones and gynes (D&G), 11 producing only drones (D) and 4 producing neither. Some of the D&G colonies had more than one sexual phase, but no colonies produced exclusively gynes. More drones and fewer gynes were produced per colony under greenhouse conditions with the highest number of drones produced by D&G colonies. The numbers of immature stages per cell declined in colonies as increasingly more resources were allocated to the production of gynes and the maintenance of increased nest temperature.