Breeding of the honey bee (apis mellifera l.) and its potential for royal jelly production in Kenya
Maundu, Elliud M.
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Royal jelly is a creamy, milky white, strongly acidic and highly nitrogenous substance secreted by the hypopharyngeal and mandibular glands of worker honey bees at the ages of 5 - 15 days of age. The jelly is fed to queens through out their life and also to drone and worker larvae of less than 3 days old. The principal constituents of royal jelly are water, protein, lipids, sugars and mineral salts. Due to differences in climate, Apis mellifera races have evolved in response to the local environmental conditions, with each race acquiring a different potential for production of honey and other hive products / and even pollination of crops. In Kenya, new generation commercial hive products like royal jelly, propolis and pollen are insignificantly produced or utilized due to lack of knowledge on production skills, awareness and undeveloped marketing systems and also due to the nature of hives used. The aim of this study was to develop a royal jelly production system and breed for high honey production and reduced defensiveness using the East African honey bees. Royal jelly production was done in queenright colonies following the procedure of Laidlaw and Eckert, (1962). Defensive behavior was evaluated following the procedure of Stort (1974) and Collins et al., (1984). The bred queens were mated by instrumental insemination and their honey production and defensive behavior compared to that of colonies headed by non-selected queens. There were no significant differences between Apis mellifera scutellata and Apis mellifera monticola in the cell reception rates and mean royal jelly yields. Grafting larvae at the age of 24 hours significantly increased queen cell reception and royal jelly yields compared to those of larvae grafted at the ages of 36; 48 and 60 hours. Supplementary feeding significantly increased colony cell reception, mean royal jelly yields per queen cell and colony royal jelly yields. Harvesting royal jelly 2 days after grafting resulted into a higher number of harvested cells compared to harvesting in a 3- day cycle. However, cells harvested 3 days after grafting yielded more royal jelly per queen cup compared to that produced by cells harvested 2 days after grafting. However, royal jelly yields were not significantly different in the 2 and 3-day cycle. The major components in the Kenyan royal jelly were found to be moisture, lipids, proteins, sugars and ash and their composition was comparable to that reported in literature. Colonies of Apis mellifera scutellata were found to have variations in both defensive behaviour and honey production. A negative and significant correlation for SN and Tl S was recorded. Variations were noted in honey production with annual honey yields of 27 - 48 kilograms per colony. There were no significant differences in sting number (SN), time to first sting (Tl S) and honey production between colonies headed by selected queens and those headed by unselected queens. Colonies headed by selected queens had significantly higher queen cup acceptance rates and royal jelly yields compared to those headed by unselected queens.