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One in every three bites you take are made possible by honey bee pollination. Keeping bees healthy and productive is essential. Honey bee reproduction depends on a queen’s ability to have one mating session, store sperm for years, and lay about 1,000 eggs a day during the warmer months: an amazing honey bee characteristic among many. Brandon Hopkins shares fascinating honey bee behavioral adaptations in this discussion.

Listen and learn

  • How a queen’s anatomy and sperm morphology work to make this reproduction effective,
  • What storage methods are best for honey bees to make the large almond yield in California possible, and
  • How these storage methods also work best to deter certain types of mites from overtaking colonies. 

Brandon Hopkins is an assistant research professor and the apiary and laboratory manager with the Washington State University Apiary Program. Studying reproductive biology across different animals led him to a honey bee obsession. “They’re fascinating creatures and present lots of room for improvement in assisted reproductive techniques in honey bee breeding,” he says.

He gives listeners a primer on honey bee social behavior and reproduction, describing the sperm, the queen’s spermatheca organ, which stores the sperm in a quiescence state over years, and the complex ability of the queen to continue laying eggs by releasing the sperm through a tube.

He also gives us a glimpse into how this works over our geography. While he’s worked on methods of cryopreservation of honey bee semen, he’s now mainly focusing on practical aspects of beekeeping management. Over two million honey bee colonies have to be moved to California in January for February almond pollination, so the storage and transport of bees is a vital topic for research.

Many beekeepers store their bees that will go to California in large warehouse-like buildings for the winter. He explains why this is an advantage, from saving their energy production to keeping mites and bee interaction at a lower state, and for a better quality of life for the keepers themselves. Listen in to understand more about the ways researchers like Brandon Hopkins are keeping bees healthy.

For more about his work, see entomology.wsu.edu/directory/faculty/brandon-hopkins.

Available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/2Os0myK

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