The quality of honey bee drone semen is relevant in different contexts, ranging from colony productivity to pathology, toxicology and biodiversity preservation. Despite its importance, considerably less knowledge is available on this subject for the honey bee when compared to other domestic animal species. A proper assessment of sperm quality requires a multiple testing approach which discriminates between the different aspects of sperm integrity and functionality. Most studies on drone semen quality have only assessed a few parameters, such as sperm volume, sperm concentration and/or sperm plasma membrane integrity. Although more recent studies have focused on a broader variety of aspects of semen quality, some techniques currently used in vertebrates, such as computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA) or multiparametric sperm quality testing, still remain to be developed in the honey bee. This may be attributed to the particular sperm morphology and physiology in this species, requiring the development of technologies specifically adapted to it. This article reviews the present knowledge of sperm quality in honey bee drones, highlighting its peculiarities and proposing future lines of research.
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