Individual study: Buff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris queens bred in captivity become lighter over successive generations; laboratory studies at the University of Amsterdam, Noord Holland, the Netherlands
Beekman M., Van Stratum P. & Lingeman R. (2000) Artificial rearing of bumble bees Bombus terrestris selects against heavy queens. Journal of Apicultural Research, 39, 61-65
Bumblebees Bombus spp. are declining in Europe and America, and captive rearing could be used to augment or re-establish populations. Previous studies have shown that queen buff-tailed bumblebees B. terrestris weighing less than 0.6 g do not survive hibernation. This study measures the weight of laboratory-reared B. terrestris queens over successive generations at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Starting in October 1993 with 47 queens reared from wild-caught queens, successive generations of B. terrestris were reared in the laboratory, with one to three generations per calendar year until July 1996. 170 colonies were reared altogether.
The average weight of outbred queens decreased linearly over time, from 0.83 g in 1993 to 0.73 g in 1996. Queens weighing over 1 g were present in 1993, infrequent in 1994 and absent in 1995 and 1996.