Learning what stresses queen bees could save their hives

WHEN HONEYBEE HIVES die, the most common cause is something called queen bee failure. That’s when queens produce too few babies to keep the hive going. Finding out why this has happened is not often easy. That has made it hard for beekeepers to prevent. But a new test may change things.

 Researchers have found high levels of certain proteins in stressed queens. Which proteins were high varied with the type of stress.

 Previous research showed temperature extremes or pesticides can kill sperm cells inside a queen bee. She needs live sperm — male reproductive cells — to fertilize her eggs and produce baby bees. With too few live sperm, her hive will die.

 Alison McAfee, who works at the University of British Columbia

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