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Re: [Beekeeping] mandible ablation

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  • Tim Arheit
    There is plenty of evidence two queen colonies increase production, though the management is more difficult. 200% increase:
    Message 1 of 24 , Apr 15, 2013
      There is plenty of evidence two queen colonies increase production, though the management is more difficult.

      200% increase:  http://www.beesource.com/resources/usda/managing-colonies-for-high-honey-yields/
      101% increase: http://www.tecnicapecuaria.org.mx/journal/publicacion04.php?IdPublicacion=437
      115% increase: http://www.johnstonshoneybeefarm.com/grant.htm

      There are older studies showing similar results.   There are quite a few studies, both formal and informal.    It's a pretty old topic.  USDA studied at least as far back at 1958

      And yes, I know some beekeepers who do this.

      On the other hand I don't know of anyone using mandible ablation to create two queen colonies, typically other methods are used.


      On 4/15/2013 9:30 PM, Gary Glaenzer wrote:

      Hello Mike;
      With all due respect, and definitely not being critical of you personally, but.......
      Without any hard evidence that this actually increases production, plus the fact that it is from 'years ago', and that you have never heard of it being done, I have to observe that:
      IF it worked in any way, shape, or form
      IF it increased production
      IF the population of the hive was greatly increased
      We would see it in at least SOME use.........if nothing else for the production of bees for packages (large populations could be shaken more often)
      Again, nothing personal, OK ?
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Mike S
      Sent: Monday, April 15, 2013 8:21 PM
      Subject: Re: [Beekeeping] mandible ablation


      >>>   Are there any stats to the increase in production?       Are they doing this in LA?

      No stats.  This is from what I remember from an article in one of the bee journals many years ago.  And remember, my memory ain't as good as it used to be and wasn't very good then.  I have never heard of this being done in Alabama, or in any connections that I have with beekeeping.

      Mike in LA

    • Mike S
      ... No offense taken.  And points well made.  Realize too that as far as I can remember this was being done in China and they have a completely different
      Message 2 of 24 , Apr 15, 2013
        >>>   With all due respect, ......

        No offense taken.  And points well made.  Realize too that as far as I can remember this was being done in China and they have a completely different outlook on things.  Plus, I'm sure that the ablation is a pretty delicate procedure and that it would take time and effort to do.   Personally, I would not like to see such procedures undertaken here in the U. S..   We have enough problems without adding that to it.  Can you imagine the uproar the animals rights activists would raise?

        Mike in LA
      • Eric-Michael MacCionnaith, REP.
        Hi all.  I have been reading this topic with interest, both as a beekeeper and a researcher, and one engaged in humane husbandry, this is of course of
        Message 3 of 24 , Apr 16, 2013
          Hi all.  I have been reading this topic with interest, both as a beekeeper and a researcher, and one engaged in humane husbandry, this is of course of interest to me.  I came across this recent scientific article on the topic titled:  A scientific note on the lack of effect of mandible ablation on the synthesis of royal scent by honeybee queens by Huo-Qing ZHENG, Vincent DIETEMAN, Fu-Liang HU, Robin M. CREWE, and Christian W. W. PIRK in 2012, the text of which I've copied below for you all.  My apologies about formatting; PDF is not always fun with the copy and paste mechanism.

          For those who were curious to read...


          Recently, honeybee colonies in which several mated,
          egg-laying honeybee queens coexist under freely
          moving conditions were experimentally obtained
          mainly by ablating a third to a half of both mandibles
          of queens to avoid inter-queen rivalry (Zheng et al.
          2009a). These colonies functioned normally and were
          used as supporting units for the faster build-up of
          productive colonies and for production of royal jelly
          in China (Zheng et al. 2009b). Observations also
          revealed that queens with a third to a half of one
          mandible ablated had normal levels of activity
          compared to intact queens, but they refrained from
          engaging in lethal contests (Dietemann et al. 2008).
          Mandibles are the release site of the mandibular
          glands pheromone. This pheromone possesses many
          functions (reviewed in Le Conte and Hefetz 2008),
          among which is the regulation of reproduction of
          workers. Since the secretory openings of mandibular
          glands are located at the inner margin of each
          mandible between the anterior articulation and the
          base of the apodeme of the flexor muscle (Snodgrass
          1956; Figure 1), the gland’s secretions might be
          affected by partial mandible ablation. Ablation could
          block or facilitate the release of the pheromone via
          feedback mechanisms and could thus influence the
          synthesis rate of the gland or the proportion of its
          components. We therefore evaluated the effect of this
          surgical treatment on the composition of the queen
          mandibular gland pheromone to determine whether
          changes in its synthesis could play a role in the
          experimental establishment of polygyny.
          The honeybee colonies used were Apis mellifera
          ligustica. Queens were freely mated 1-year-old sisters
          reared as those used to create multiple-queen colonies
          (Zheng et al. 2009a). Seventeen queens were collected
          and a third to a half of one of their mandibles (left
          side for eight and right side for nine queens) was
          excised with micro-scissors (Zheng et al. 2009a). In
          order to investigate the effect of removing a part of
          the mandible on queen pheromone synthesis, eight of
          these queens (four of which the left mandible was
          manipulated and four with the right) were each
          introduced into a queenless colony with four frames
          of bees to form single-queen colonies.
          To evaluate the potential changes in pheromone
          synthesis in ablated queens in the context of a multiplequeen
          colony, the other nine ablated queens were
          introduced into three queenless colonies with four
          frames of young bees to form three-queen colonies
          (Zheng et al. 2009a). One queen in each of two
          colonies failed to be accepted. One three-queen and
          two two-queen colonies were thus used.
          The 11 colonies were kept for 10 days when at
          least one comb in each colony was filled with eggs
          and young larvae. Queens were then taken out of
          their hosting colonies, frozen, and decapitated.
          The heads were split into two parts by vertically
          cutting between the mandibles and the bases of the
          antennae (Figure 1). Half heads were placed in
          200 μL dichloromethane for at least 24 h to allow
          maximal extraction of gland content. This method
          does not allow the distinction between gland content
          and secreted blend. Since the quantity of pheromone
          stored in a gland is two to three orders of magnitude
          higher than that found on the cuticle (Naumann et al.
          1991), our extracts reflect the amount of pheromone
          synthesized by the gland. Half of the extract was
          evaporated under a stream of nitrogen and analyzed
          by gas chromatography (see Zheng et al. 2010). The
          following six mandibular gland components were
          identified based on the retention times of synthetic
          compounds and quantified using peak areas: 9-keto-
          (E)-2 decenoic acid (9ODA), 9-hydroxy-2(E)-decenoic
          acid (9HDA), the two aromatic compounds
          methyl p-hydroxybenzoate (HOB) and 4-hydroxy-3-
          methoxyphenylethanol (HVA), and two major worker
          mandibular gland components 10-hydroxy-2(E)-
          decenoic acid (10HDA) and 10-hydroxydecanoic
          acid (10HDAA). Their relative mass ratios were
          calculated relative to tetradecane.
          Since the absolute amount and relative proportions
          (data arcsine transformed) of the six compounds
          did not vary significantly between left and
          right half heads either with ablated or intact
          mandibles in either monogynous queens or polygynous
          queens, data from left half heads and right
          half heads were pooled (Mann–Whitney U test, 0≤
          U(3∼4)≤8, lowest P value=0.057).
          Both the absolute amounts and relative proportions
          (data arcsine transformed) of the six
          individual compounds and their total quantity
          showed no significant differences between the
          ablated and intact half heads of both monogynous
          and polygynous queens (Figure 2, Wilcoxon
          signed ranks test, −2<Z(7∼8)<0, lowest P value=
          0.176). We therefore pooled the data for monogynous
          and polygynous queens. Again, no significant
          difference was found between ablated and intact
          groups (Wilcoxon signed ranks test, −2<Z15<0,
          lowest P value=0.281).
          No significant difference between intact and
          ablated half heads was found in the ratio of
          10HDAA/9HDA that is used to differentiate between
          worker (>1.0) and queen-specific signals (≤1.0)
          (Plettner et al. 1993) (Wilcoxon signed ranks test,
          Z15=−1.420, P=0.156) or in the ratio of 9ODA/
          (9ODA+10HDAA+10HDA) commonly used as a
          measure of reproductive dominance (Moritz et al.
          2004) (Wilcoxon signed ranks test, Z15=−0.227, P=
          0.820). The power values of our tests (Mann–
          Whitney U and Wilcoxon signed rank tests) were
          between 0.05 for 9ODA and 0.109 for 9HDA
          (g*Power 3.1 for MAC).
          No significant difference could be found in
          pheromonal synthesis by glands connected to an
          ablated or intact mandible. Given the power of our
          tests, we can state that pheromone synthesis in glands
          from ablated and non-ablated half heads are not
          statistically different. The ablation of a third to half of
          a mandible therefore does not seem to significantly
          affect the synthesis of mandibular pheromone by the
          corresponding gland. We have thus found no evidence
          for a feedback mechanism that affects the
          synthesis of pheromone when the release site has
          been manipulated. Our results support the idea that
          experimentally established polygyny by mandible
          ablation (Dietemann et al. 2008) is not due to changes
          in mandibular pheromones.
          The amounts of compounds extracted from ablated
          individuals are comparable to non-ablated controls
          and to values measured in other studies [for example,
          179.5±65 μg for 9-ODA in our study compared to
          231±17 μg by Plettner et al. (1997)]. This indicates
          that ablated queens do not have a reduced ability to
          synthesize mandibular pheromone compared to unmanipulated
          In our study, we only measured the composition of
          the mandibular gland products that was synthesized
          and not the pheromone available to detection by the
          workers on the surface of the queen’s cuticle. A finer
          resolution of the effect of ablation on chemical
          communication could therefore be obtained if the
          pheromone extracted from queen cuticle and not from
          their glands was investigated.
          Not only mandibular pheromones are changing
          with the reproductive status of honeybees, Dufour
          gland secretions are also described as a fertility signal
          in workers (Malka et al. 2007). It is unlikely that
          manipulation of the mandible affects this gland’s
          secretion, but whether they are involved in the
          establishment of polygynous honeybee colonies
          should be investigated. Excluding changes in pheromonal
          secretion following ablation supports the
          hypothesis that experimental polygyny in honeybees
          is a result of self-assessment of the fighting ability of
          queens (Dietemann et al. 2008).

          This work was funded by China Postdoctoral
          Science Foundation (20100481435 and 201104739)
          and RMC and CWWP were funded by National
          Research Foundation and University of Pretoria.
          Note scientifique sur l’absence d’effet de l’ablation de
          la mandibule sur la synthèse de la phéromone royale
          par les reines d’abeilles.
          Eine wissenschaftliche Notiz darüber, dass die
          Ablation der Mandibeln keinen Effekt auf die Synthese
          der Königinnenduftstoffe bei Honigbienen hat.

          Dietemann, V., Zheng, H.Q., Hepburn, C., Hepburn, H.R., Jin,
          S.H., Crewe, R.M., Radloff, S.E., Hu, F.L., Pirk, C.W.W.
          (2008) Self assessment in insects: honeybee queens know
          their own strength. PLoS One 3, e1412
          Le Conte, Y., Hefetz, A. (2008) Primer pheromones in social
          Hymenoptera. Annu. Rev. Entomol. 53, 523–542
          Malka, O., Shnieor, S., Hefetz, A., Katzav-Gozansky, T. (2007)
          Reversible royalty in worker honeybees (Apis mellifera)
          under the queen influence. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 61,
          Moritz, R.F.A., Lattorff, H.M.G., Crewe, R.M. (2004) Honeybee
          workers (Apis mellifera capensis) compete for producing
          queen-like pheromone signals. P. Roy. Soc. B-Biol. Sci.
          271, S98–S100
          Naumann, K., Winston, M.L., Slessor, K., Prestwich, G.D.,
          Webster, F.X. (1991) Production and transmission of honey
          bee queen (Apis mellifera L.) mandibular gland pheromone.
          Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 29, 321–332
          Plettner, E., Otis, G.W., Winmalaratne, P.D.C., Winston, M.L.,
          Slessor, K.N., Pankiw, T., Punchihewa, P.W.K. (1997)
          Species- and caste-determined mandibular gland signals in
          honeybees (Apis). J. Chem. Ecol. 23, 363–377
          Plettner, E., Slessor, K.N., Winston, M.L., Robinson, G.E.,
          Page, R.E. (1993) Mandibular gland components and
          ovarian development as measures of caste differentiation
          in the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.). J. Insect Physiol. 39,
          Snodgrass, R.E. (1956) Anatomy of the honey bee, pp. 39–42.
          Cornell University Press, Ithaca
          Zheng, H.Q., Dietemann, V., Crewe, R.M., Hepburn, H.R., Hu,
          F.L., Yang, M.X., Pirk, C.W.W. (2010) Pheromonal
          predisposition to social parasitism in the honeybee Apis
          mellifera capensis. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 21, 1221–1226
          Zheng, H.Q., Jin, S.H., Hu, F.L., Pirk, C.W.W. (2009a)
          Sustainable multiple queen colonies of honeybees, Apis
          mellifera ligustica. J. Apic. Res. 48, 284–289
          Zheng, H.Q., Jin, S.H., Hu, F.L., Pirk, C.W.W., Dietemann, V.
          (2009b) Maintenance and application of multiple queen
          colonies in commercial beekeeping. J. Apic. Res. 48, 290–


        • Jorg Kewisch
          I think it is like castrating young boys so that they keep their soprano voices. Who would do something repulsive like that? ... Oh, wait...
          Message 4 of 24 , Apr 16, 2013
            I think it is like castrating young boys so that they keep their soprano
            voices. Who would do something repulsive like that? ... Oh, wait...
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