The mating sign of queen bees originates from two drones and the process of multiple mating in honey bees

publication date: Nov 1, 2011
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Journal of Apicultural Research
Vol. 50 (4) pp. 272 - 283
DOI
10.3896/IBRA.1.50.4.04
Date
November 2011
Article Title

The mating sign of queen bees originates from two drones and the process of multiple mating in honey bees

Author(s)
Jerzy Woyke
Abstract

Queens return from successful mating flights with the mating sign, which consists of chitinized plates of drone endophallus filled with mucus. The orange membranes covering both sides of the mating sign do not touch the hairy rim of the bursa copulatrix. The thin thread at the end of the mating sign is pushed forward on the surface of the sign in most queens. This makes the end of the sign look blunt. Simulated stages of natural mating showed that it is impossible for the orange membranes covering the cornua of the endophallus to become stuck to the mating sign of the same drone. Mating signs with additional pairs of orange membranes were found. In some queens, the semen or additional second mating signs were found at the end of the sign protruding from queen’s sting chambers. Those three additional parts originated from drones, which attempted to mate, but failed to remove the mating sign of the predecessor. The thin thread at the end of the mating sign was pushed to the surface of the sign, because the next drone attempted to mate, but failed to remove the sign of its predecessor. The last drone, which failed to mate, left the orange membranes of his endophallic cornua at the mating sign of his predecessor. Thus, the mating sign originates from two drones. The chitinized plates and the mucus originate from one drone, but the orange membranes originate from the last drone/s, which attempted to mate, but failed to remove the sign of his predecessor.

Keywords

queen bee, drone, natural mating, mating sign

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