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Title: It is buzziness time: rearing, mating, and overwintering Bombus vosnesenskii (Hymenoptera: Apidae)

Bombus vosnesenskii Radowszkowski, 1862 is one of three bumble bee species commercially available for pollination services in North America; however, little is documented about B. vosnesenskii colony life cycle or the establishment of ex situ rearing, mating, and overwintering practices. In this study, we documented nest success, colony size, and gyne production; recorded the duration of mating events; assessed overwintering survival of mated gynes; and evaluated second-generation nest success for colonies established from low- and high-elevation wild-caught B. vosnesenskii gynes. Of the 125 gynes installed, 62.4% produced brood cells (nest initiation) and 43.2% had at least 1 worker eclose (nest establishment). High-elevation B. vosnesenskii gynes had significantly higher nest initiation and establishment success than low-elevation gynes. However, low-elevation colonies were significantly larger with queens producing more gynes on average. Mating was recorded for 200 low-elevation and 37 high-elevation gynes, resulting in a mean duration of 62 and 51 min, respectively. Mated gynes were then placed into cold storage for 54 days to simulate overwintering, which resulted in 59.1% of low-elevation gynes surviving and 91.9% of high-elevation gynes surviving. For second-generation low-elevation gynes, 26.4% initiated nesting and 14.3% established nesting. Second-generation high-elevation gynes did not initiate nesting despite CO2 narcosis treatments. Overall, these results increase our understanding of B. vosnesenskii nesting, mating, and overwintering biology from 2 elevations. Furthermore, this study provides information on successful husbandry practices that can be used by researchers and conservationists to address knowledge gaps and enhance the captive rearing of bumble bees.

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Leppla, Norman
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Journal of Insect Science
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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