Research on Capitol Hill

Presenter and Co-Presenter(s)

Shannon Heiner, Utah State UniversityFollow

Expected Graduation Year



College of Science


Biology Department

Faculty Mentor

Diane Alston


Royal Jelly Diet for in-vitro Rearing of Bumble Bee Larvae

Successful in-vitro rearing of honey bees (Apis mellifera) has supported scientific advancements through accelerated laboratory research studies. However, in-vitro rearing has never successfully been conducted for any species of bumble bee larvae. The objective of this research was to test techniques to rear bumble bee larvae in-vitro. With in-vitro rearing, researchers are able to control and manipulate variables such as diet and pesticide exposure, to observe their effects on the study organisms. Additionally, comparison of experimental data to natural situations can lead to insights about the performance of bumble bees in natural systems. It has been suggested that pollen chemistry may play a role in aspects of bee larval development. For this reason, bumble bee larvae were reared on a pollen-free diet. Honey bee larvae can be reared on a diet of royal jelly, a honey bee secretion that does not contain pollen. As honey bees and bumble bees are closely related, it was thought that bumble bees may be able to survive on a diet of royal jelly. Diets were prepared using a recipe from Standard methods for artificial rearing of Apis mellifera larvae (Crailsheim et. al., 2012). Eggs were placed on water agar plates and incubated until they hatched. Larvae were then fed a royal jelly-based diet. Challenges in successful egg hatch and completion of rearing larvae for more than 12 days were encountered. The results suggest that bumble bee larvae can be reared in-vitro from eggs on a royal jelly diet, but further challenges remain in determining how to advance their development to mature larvae.

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