Optimizing laboratory rearing of a key pollinator, bombus impatiens

Erin Treanore, Katherine Barie, Nathan Derstine, Kaitlin Gadebusch, Margarita Orlova, Monique Porter, Frederick Purnell, Etya Amsalem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Bumble bees are key pollinators for wild and managed plants and serve as a model system in various research fields, largely due to their commercial availability. Despite their extensive use, laboratory rearing of bumble bees is often challenging, particularly during the solitary phase queens undergo before founding a colony. Using a literature survey, we demonstrate that most studies rely on commercially available species that are provided during the colony’s social phase, limiting study on early phases of the life cycle and the ability to control for colony age and relatedness. Laboratory rearing is challenging since the queen solitary phase is less understood compared to the social phase. To overcome this barrier, we examined several aspects related to the queen solitary phase: The effect of age on likelihood of mating, how the timing of CO2 narcosis post-mating (a technique to bypass diapause) affects egg-laying, and whether different social cues affect the success of colony initiation. Our data show an optimum age for mating in both sexuals and decreased egg-laying latency in the presence of workers and pupae. The timing of CO2 narcosis did not significantly affect egg laying in queens. These findings can be incorporated to improve bumble bee rearing for research purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number673
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Insect Science


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