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Bee sperm bank stores the buzz

beePULLMAN, Wash. — Researchers at Washington State University plan to build a “bee sperm bank” in an effort to diversify and strengthen the honey bee population around the state.

According to a release sent out by the university, researches will use liquid nitrogen to create the frozen semen bank from select U.S. and European honey bee populations. Researches have worked since 2008 to develop the bank, as honey bee populations around the world dwindle from a variety of causes.

The bee semen is collected from European and U.S. subspecies, and subject to strict screening for viruses and parasites; common problems in honey bee populations.

“Invasive mites can sap a brood’s strength and vector viruses,” researchers said in a release. “Pesticides can build up in the brood comb and gradually weaken bees. And while the agricultural practice of monoculture provides a lot of food, it offers little of the nutritional variety that bees need.”

The semen is collected with a syringe and will be frozen in a laboratory at the WSU campus.

 

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