Researchers at Washington State University have hatched a plan to help aid dwindling honeybee populations– by creating a bee sperm bank. The plan may seem unusual, but due to pesticides, parasitic mites and climate change, bees aren’t reproducing normally and they can use all the help they can get. The sperm bank, or “bee genome repository,” will help diversify the bee gene pool, creating stronger bees.

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The bee sperm bank will be comprised of sperm collected from colonies of bees in both the United States and Europe. Since the import of live bees was banned way back in 1922, the colonies on each continent have been isolated, thus creating generations of bees fostering the same strengths and inferiorities. Experts think that cross breeding American and European bees in the lab is the best bet to create stronger, more resilient bees that can withstand pesticides and climate change.

The researchers will also be put to the arduous task of collecting…samples. By applying pressure to a drone’s abdomen, a sample of semen can be collected. The sample will then be viable for 10-14 days, giving Cobey and her team enough time to either freeze the samples with liquid nitrogen, or inject them into a queen bee’s oviduct. The crème de la crème of bees will be used – from the strongest drones to the best queen bees, and the researchers hope to create a new colony of super bees. Once frozen, the bee semen can be stored for decades and used to inseminate future bees to help the population thrive once again.

+ Washington State University

Via The Atlantic

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