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Demonstration of Instrumental Insemination of The Queenbee

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The breeding of honeybees along definite lines of genetical and race improvement has to the present been impossible because the mating of the queenbee could not be controlled. She pursues her once-for-life nuptials in the open air free on the wing and she persistently refuses to mate under any other conditions.

After 150 years of research by numerous experimenters in many lands, it has now for the first time been conclusively demonstrated by Dr. Lloyd R. Watson of Cornell University that she can at least be outwitted. By means of a sort of surgical operation involving very delicate microtechnique which is carried out under the lenses of a binocular microscope, the sperm from a selected drone is dissected out, and with the aid of a microsyringe, which in turn is stabilized and controlled by a micromanipulator, it is injected into the oviduct of the virgin queen as she rests dorsal side downward in a cradle carved out of a tiny operating-table, and held motionless by several loops of silk thread thrown over her body and around the table.

To the present time about 50% of all the treated queens later showed insemination ranging all the way from perfectly normal down to very slight. This procedure is not adapted to the use of the ordinary beekeeper, nor to that of the ordinary commercial queen-raiser, but it is adapted to the use of any microscopist who knows bee-behavior and who can bring to the problem a fine degree of manual control.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 1927

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  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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