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Experimental evaluation of the reproductive quality of Africanized queen bees (Apis mellifera) on the basis of body weight at emergence

Author(s): D.A. De Souza1, M.A.F. Bezzera-Laure1, T.M. Francoy2 and L.S. Gonçalves3,4

There has been much speculation about which phenotypic traits serve as reliable indicators of productivity in queen honeybees (Apis mellifera). To investigate the predictive value of queen body weight on colony development and quality, we compared colonies in which queens weighed less than 180 mg to those in which queens weighed more than 200 mg. Both groups contained naturally mated and instrumentally inseminated queens. Colonies were evaluated on the basis of performance quality, growth rate, and queen longevity. We found that queen body weight was significantly correlated with fecundity and colony quality. Heavy queens exhibited the most favorable performance and colony quality. In contrast, naturally mated,with the opposite trend being obtained for light-weight queens. We found no statistically significant difference between instrumentally inseminated queens and naturally mated queens. Our results support the use of queen body weight as a reliable visual (physiological) indicator of potential colony productivity in honey bees to enhance genetic lines in genetic improvement programs.