year starts and the days start to get longer again, queen egg laying resumes and the brood nest temperature must be maintained at 90 °F (35 °C). The bees raise the temperature by vibrating their wing muscles although the wings themselves are disconnected from the muscles. Care is needed at this time to watch that adequate honey stores are available or feeding with fondant (candy in the UK) will be necessary. Continuing this theme of the winter season, Joe Kovaleski spoke about ‘Moving into Spring’ where he placed much emphasis on the adequacy of stores of both honey and pollen. Bees generally move up to stores rather than down and can even die out although there are stores below rather than above the cluster. It might also be desirable to insert frames of honey, if available, at the side of the cluster to provide an extra carbohydrate (for energy) supply. Pollen is essential for the growth of young emerging brood and the development of their brood food glands (for body building) containing amino acids, vitamins, minerals, fats and sterols. Generally, colony strength is important early in the season and often a colony that is weak now will remain so throughout the forthcoming year. The last of the short course talks worthy of mention was one on ‘Floral Sources’ given by Vince Aloyo. This was a fascinating talk about the sources of pollen and nectar from a wide range of flowers which was interspersed with some interesting detail about each of around 40 plants he had experienced.
The Main Conference
First up, I heard Elina Lastro Niño speak about her work which involves behavioural, physiological and molecular characterisation of factors affecting honey bee queen post-mating changes and queen–worker interactions. She’s particularly interested in understanding the underlying molecular pathways regulating these changes and whether these changes are evident after the queen commences oviposition. She also studies factors that alter queen pheromone profiles and how these in turn regulate worker behaviour (eg, retinue response, supersedure attempts) and physiology, eg, juvenile hormone levels, and pheromone production, which could affect colony success. She also mentioned how the queen could be described as both an egg-laying machine and also a pheromone factory that regulates the colony’s social organisation. Furthermore, minor changes in the quality of a queen can significantly reduce the chances of colony survival. On Thursday morning, Dave Tarpy, an Associate Professor of Entomology and the Extension Apiculturist at North Carolina State University, chose as his subject ‘Who’s Related to Whom? Relationships among Queens and Drones in Managed Populations’. He started his talk by showing us a video clip of how a drone turns himself inside out during mating. On average, a queen will mate 12 times with different drones in rapid succession. She then returns to the hive and is never likely to leave it again unless in a swarm. His research interests focus on the biology and behaviour of queens, using techniques such as field manipulations, behavioural observation, instrumental insemination and molecular genetics in order to improve the overall health of queens and their colonies. The work includes understanding the effect of the multiple matings on colony disease resistance, determining the underlying factors of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), using molecular methods to determine the genetic structure within honey bee colonies and determining the regulation of reproduction at the individual and colony levels. He has provided some of the best empirical evidence that multiple mating by queens confers multiple and significant benefits to colonies through increased genetic diversity of the colony, particularly through increased tolerance to numerous diseases. More recently, his work has focused on the reproductive potential of commercially produced queens, testing their genetic diversity and mating success in an effort to improve queen quality.