As the demand of bee colonies for bee-keeping activity in many crop situations such as rubber, coconut and orchard is increasing, queen-rearing deserves more encouragement in the near future. The rearing of queens for the production of superior colonies for sale must also ensure the productivity and longevity of bee colonies. This is required to build up the confidence of farmers in buying colonies for bee-keeping.
The common methods of queen-rearing as practiced by Malaysian farmers are: the normal division of colonies and, to a limited extent, by the ‘Doolittle Method’ (larvae grafted into artificial queen cups using natural royal jelly). For our farmers, local natural royal jelly production is too sophisticated, time-consuming and limited only to a seasonal basis. It is perhaps of interest to bee-keepers here to learn that a certain processed royal jelly known as Happy Link Lyophilized Royal Jelly is available for use in the queen-rearing program in this country.
In this preliminary experiment, Happy Link Royal Jelly was evaluated for its potency as a replacement for Natural Royal Jelly to produce ‘apis cerana’ queen bees. Measurement of growth parameters of emerging queens was also carried out to evaluate the purity of the products.
Five treatments were selected with a limited number of replicates for the preliminary trials. This is because of the difficulty in obtaining natural royal jelly from the hive for the required number of replications. The treatments and replications for the preliminary testing were as follows:
Treatment 2 – 2 gm of honey mixed with 1 gm of Happy Link Royal Jelly Powder.
Treatment 3 – 1 gm of distilled water mixed with 1 gm of Happy Link Royal Jelly Powder.
Treatment 4 – 2 gm of distilled water mixed with 1 gm of Happy Link Royal Jelly Powder.
Treatment 5 – Natural royal jelly from the hive.
The 2-day-old larvae of ‘apis cerana’ were transferred into artificial queen cups receiving the described treatments. Using the Doolittle method of queen rearing, larvae were inoculated into queen cups grafted on the queen-rearing frame. The queen cups were randomly attached in an inverted manner in the top and middle portion of the frame. A series of photographs was taken to highlight the acceptance and development of queen cells that would lead to the emergence of queens. An assessment of percentage acceptance, emergence and growth parameters was conducted.
Two days after larvae introduction, the worker bees readily accepted larvae of treatments 2 and 5 in the upper portion of the queen-rearing frame. The artificial queen cups of both the treatments were quickly modified into elongated queen cells reaching the measurement of 1.0cm in length compared to a length of 0.9 cm for the other treatments. In the lower portion of the queen-rearing frame, treatments 1 and 3 were readily accepted by worker bees as queens. All queen cells were capped within 5 days.
In the top portion of the queen-rearing frame, treatment 2 had the highest percentage of queen-emergence. In the lower portion of the queen-rearing frame, again treatments 2 and 1 were found to be superior to other treatments in terms of emergence of queens. Both treatments had Happy Link Royal Jelly Powder mixed with different concentrations of honey. The percentage emergence of queens for treatments 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 were 40%, 67%, 25%, 33% and 50% respectively.
here was not much difference in the size of emerging queens between the treatments. The growth parameters such as abdominal length, wing span, thorax length, head length and weight were 0.7 cm, 1.1 cm, 0.4 cm, 0.2 cm and 0.0307 gm respectively. Queen-emergence was spontaneous between treatments at 16 days after inoculation of larvae.
Happy Link Royal Jelly can be used to produce ‘apis cerana’ queen bees. It was also proven to be as natural and even better than the royal jelly extracted from the hive.