Re: [Beekeeping] mandible ablation
- 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 formIF it increased productionIF the population of the hive was greatly increasedWe 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 ?Regards,Gary----- Original Message -----From: Mike SSent: Monday, April 15, 2013 8:21 PMSubject: 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
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?
>>> With all due respect, ......
Mike in LA
- 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.
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–
- I think it is like castrating young boys so that they keep their soprano
voices. Who would do something repulsive like that? ... Oh, wait...