Mating frequency in Apis mellifera iberiensis queens.
Raquel Hernández-García, Pilar De la Rúa, José Serrano.
Honey bees exhibithigh levels of polyandry. This mating behaviour provides high levels of genetic diversity within the colonies which increases colony productivity, queen fitness and resistance to diseases. We investigated the mating frequency in two Iberian populations of Apis mellifera iberiensis, one from northern Spain inhabiting the Cantabrian Mountains and showing west European (M) mitochondrial haplotypes, the other located in south-eastern Spain close to the Mediterranean Sea and bearing African (A) mitochondrial DNA. Queens of the northern apiaries mated with 8 - 25 drones (average 15.73 ± 4.58), those of the south-eastern with 10 - 29 drones (average 18.92 ± 5.07), a difference that was significant (p = 0.036). Genetic relatedness among workers was 0.30 ± 0.02 in both populations. It is discussed whether climatic conditions and genetic background may influence honey bee queen mating behaviour.