How does the Queen keep the sperm viable?

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cadleigh 

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I was asked a question the other day that completely stumped me and I haven't been able to find out the answer so here goes.

I explained during a talk that the new queen hatches and then hangs around for a few days hardening up before she is encouraged to go on her familiarisation and mating flights by the rest of the bees. I mentioned that she could mate anything up to 14 times and then generally doesn't fly again until she swarms some two to three years later (if we are lucky).
A little old lady asked me how the queen keeps the sperm viable in the Spermatheca to be able to fertilise eggs up to three years later. I had to confess that I didn't know but confidently said I would find out and get back to her.
I'm stumped!! Does anyone know how it is done, is it stored in a saline based solution in the spermatheca, does she regulate the temperature, is so much produced from the spermataphore that a high attrition rate still leaves a few million survivors?
Does anyone know the answer?
Regards
Steve
 

cadleigh 

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Thank you so much. It seems that the queen produces proteins and enzymes to mimic seminal fluid and a range of defence mechanisms to reduce oxidative degeneration.
I'm not sure who is the cleverest, you for finding it, the Aussies for the research paper or the Queen Bee for doing it.
Thanks again
Steve
 

ma1308 

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No problem Steve I am reading everything I can find at the moment I don't have any bees but seriously thinking about it after reporting a swarm a few weeks ago, the swarm was on the floor not far from my house it was so fascinating watching them make there way into the Skep Hive.

As for who is clever I would say Queen Bee :)
 

WI-USA-BEEK 

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Hey, this may be odd but as many of you know we cant keep sperm viable for long for II so would not the solution be to II several queens with drones from the queen that sperm is wanted from then use them as long term storage tanks?
 

drstitson 

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if serious about banking sperm for II - given the time and money being spent anyway - it would be more reliable to invest a bit in a second hand LiqN2 tank and some culture media+DMSO to freeze the sperm.
 

WI-USA-BEEK 

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I thought at two weeks it was half viable
 

newportbuzz 

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would it not be easier to dequeen a colony in august and have them hold on to there drones till spring and store the sperm that way?
not sure where i got the info for dequeening to hold drones but i think it is from a breeding program plan. ill look it out
 

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