Effects of Brood Pheromone (SuperBoost) on Consumption of Protein Supplement and Growth of Honey Bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae) Colonies During Fall in a Northern Temperate Climate

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Honey bee, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), nutrition is vital for colony growth and maintenance of a robust immune system. Brood rearing in honey bee colonies is highly dependent on protein availability. Beekeepers in general provide protein supplement to colonies during periods of pollen dearth. Honey bee brood pheromone is a blend of methyl and ethyl fatty acid esters extractable from cuticle of honey bee larvae that communicates the presence of larvae in a colony. Honey bee brood pheromone has been shown to increase protein supplement consumption and growth of honey bee colonies in a subtropical winter climate. Here, we tested the hypothesis that synthetic brood pheromone (SuperBoost) has the potential to increase protein supplement consumption during fall in a temperate climate and thus increase colony growth. The experiments were conducted in two locations in Oregon during September and October 2009. In both the experiments, colonies receiving brood pheromone treatment consumed significantly higher protein supplement and had greater brood area and adult bees than controls. Results from this study suggest that synthetic brood pheromone may be used to stimulate honey bee colony growth by stimulating protein supplement consumption during fall in a northern temperate climate, when majority of the beekeepers feed protein supplement to their colonies.

Keywords: brood pheromone; colony growth; honey bee; nutrition; protein supplement

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/EC11437

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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