The semen itself is fairly easy to collect, said Cobey. In general terms, if you apply a tiny amount of pressure to a mature drone's abdomen, it will ejaculate the semen, which can be collected in a syringe equipped with a capillary tube.

Live semen will survive at room temperature for about 10-14 days, allowing Cobey to collect it and transport it back to her laboratory, where it can be frozen or injected into a selected queen bee's oviduct, to fertilize it.

The semen will be collected from the strongest and best stock in Europe, then injected into the strongest and best queen bee stock from the United States, thereby helping to strengthen and diversify U.S. bee colonies.

The question of how to store honey bee genetic material for years, as is already the practice with other animals of agricultural importance, has been solved with the help of Sheppard’s graduate student Brandon Hopkins. Hopkins discovered that liquid nitrogen maintains the semen viability for decades, helping preserve imperiled subspecies in a honey bee genetic repository.

 

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