Standard methods for maintaining adult Apis mellifera in cages under in vitro laboratory conditions

publication date: Jan 29, 2013
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Journal of Apicultural Research Vol. 52 (1)
DOI 10.3896/IBRA.
Date January 2013
Article Title

Standard methods for maintaining adult Apis mellifera in cages under in vitro laboratory conditions


Geoffrey R Williams, Cédric Alaux, Cecilia Costa, Támas Csáki, Vincent Doublet, Dorothea Eisenhardt, Ingemar Fries, Rolf Kuhn, Dino P McMahon, Piotr Medrzycki, Tomás E Murray, Myrsini E Natsopoulou, Peter Neumann, Randy Oliver, Robert J Paxton, Stephen F Pernal, Dave Shutler, Gina Tanner, Jozef J M van der Steen and Robert Brodschneider


Adult honey bees are maintained in vitro in laboratory cages for a variety of purposes. For example, researchers may wish to perform experiments on honey bees caged individually or in groups to study aspects of parasitology, toxicology, or physiology under highly controlled conditions, or they may cage whole frames to obtain freshly emerged workers of known age cohorts. Regardless of purpose, researchers must manage a number of variables, ranging from selection of study subjects (e.g. honey bee subspecies) to experimental environment (e.g. temperature and relative humidity). Although decisions made by researchers may not necessarily jeopardize the scientific rigour of an experiment, they may profoundly affect results, and may make comparisons with similar, but independent, studies difficult. Focusing primarily on workers, we provide recommendations for maintaining adults under in vitro laboratory conditions, whilst acknowledging gaps in our understanding that require further attention. We specifically describe how to properly obtain honey bees, and how to choose appropriate cages, incubator conditions, and food to obtain biologically relevant and comparable experimental results. Additionally, we provide broad recommendations for experimental design and statistical analyses of data that arises from experiments using caged honey bees. The ultimate goal of this, and of all COLOSS BEEBOOK papers, is not to stifle science with restrictions, but rather to provide researchers with the appropriate tools to generate comparable data that will build upon our current understanding of honey bees.



Apis mellifera, honey bee, colony losses, hoarding, cage, in vitro, laboratory, COLOSS, Nosema, toxicology, BEEBOOK

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