Semen Collection for Artificial Insemination in Honey Bees


Instrumental Insemination of Honey Bee Queens


Diagram of honey bee queen insemination from Sue Cobey’s fact sheet, “Insemination of the Queen”


Insemination Techniques

  1. Eversion of the Honey Bee Drone Endophallus for Insemination
  2. Semen Collection for Artificial Insemination in Honey Bees

    1. Saline Recipe
  3. Insemination of the Honey Bee Queen
  4. Field Dissection of the Honey Bee Queen Spermatheca


UC Davis bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey with a frame of banked queens. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC Davis Department of Entomology)


These pages are brought to you by Susan Cobey at

For classes in instrumental insemination by Susan Cobey, see: The UC Davis entomology website


The amount and consistency of semen obtained varies, generally each drone will yield about 1 µl. The standard dose per queen is of 8 to 10 µl. Initially, collect an air space to separate semen from the saline column in the syringe.



Avoid the viscous mucus, which separates easily from the more fluid semen. If resistance is felt, the tip is in the mucus and this will plug the tip. Keep the tip moist with saline to prevent drying, although avoid dilution of semen with excess saline.

To collect semen from the next drone, expel a small drop of semen from the tipon to the semen load of the next everted endophallus and draw this into the syringe.



Collect a drop of saline in the tip to make contact with the semen on the endophallus. For collection of each semen load, expel a drop of semen from the syringe to make contact. Avoid collecting air bubbles and avoid the underlying mucus layer.

Draw the semen into the syringe, skimming this off the mucus layer.



Repeat this process until the desired amount of semen is collected. The column of semen should be uniform in color and density.

Maintain sanitary conditions. Contamination can be a major causeof queen mortality. Take care to avoid contamination of semen, critical instruments parts and your hands.

Download a .pdf: Semen Collection for Artificial Insemination in Honey Bees

EN Español: De recogida de esperma