Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

For Honey Bee Queens, Multiple Mating Makes a Difference

09.10.2007
The success of the “reign” of a honey bee queen appears to be determined to a large degree by the number of times she mates with drone bees.

That is what research by scientists in the Department of Entomology and W.M. Keck Center for Behavioral Biology at North Carolina State University suggests. Dr. Freddie-Jeanne Richard, a post-doctoral research associate; Dr. David Tarpy, assistant professor and North Carolina Cooperative Extension apiculturist; and Dr. Christina Grozinger, assistant professor of insect genomics, found that the number of times a honey bee queen mates is a key factor in determining how attractive the queen is to the worker bees of a hive. Their research was published Oct. 3 in the online scientific journal PLoS ONE (http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0000980).

A honey bee queen mates early in her life, Tarpy explained, but usually with multiple partners, the drones of another bee colony. Richard, Tarpy, and Grozinger found that the number of partners appears to be a key factor in making the queen attractive to the worker bees of a colony – the more partners, the more attractive the queen is and the longer her reign is likely to be.

The scientists also conducted experiments that suggest that the number of times a queen mates is a factor in altering the composition of a pheromone, or chemical signal, the queen produces. It is the composition of this pheromone that appears to attract the worker bees of a hive.

... more about:
»Drone »Grozinger »Pheromone »Tarpy »colony »inseminated »mated »multiply »semen

A honey bee colony consists of a single queen and several thousand sterile worker bees. Throughout most of her life, the queen’s job is to lay eggs. However, early in a queen’s life, she makes several mating flights. On these flights, she mates -- in midair -- with anywhere from one to more than 40 drones. The average number of drones with which a queen mates is 12. The queen stores the semen from her mating flights for the remainder of her life, two to three years for a long-lived queen.

However, some queens are not so long-lived. They are rejected by the workers of the hive. The research of Richard, Tarpy, and Grozinger sheds light on this rejection mechanism.

Because queens mate early in their lives and store semen, it stands to reason that queens that have mated multiple times and accumulate more semen might be more valuable to a colony. But Tarpy said researchers have not studied the impact of the number of times a queen mates on her physiology until now.

To determine the effect mating has on honey bee queens, the scientists artificially inseminated queens. It’s difficult to determine the number of times a queen mates under natural conditions. Some queens were inseminated with the semen from one drone, others with the semen from 10 drones. The scientists then put the queens in hives and observed them.

They found that worker bees paid more attention to the multiply inseminated queens. Worker bees demonstrate what is known as a “retinue response” to their queen; they lick her and rub their antennae on her. The retinue response to the multiply inseminated queens was more pronounced.

“This tells us the workers can tell how many drones the queen has mated with,” said Grozinger.

Like many animals, honey bees use pheromones to communicate. When Richard analyzed pheromone produced in the mandibular gland of honey bee queens, she found that pheromone composition changes dramatically after queens mate and that the number of times the queen mates appears to be a key factor in determining the extent of pheromone alteration.

Richard added that when worker bees were exposed to pheromone from queens inseminated with semen from one drone and queens inseminated with semen from multiple drones, the workers showed a preference for the pheromone from the multiply inseminated queens.

Richard added that an analysis of the mandibular gland pheromone found differences in the chemical profile of pheromone from once-inseminated and multiply inseminated queens. The scientists also found differences in the two types of queens in brain-expression levels of a behaviorally relevant gene.

“Our results clearly demonstrate that insemination quantity alters queen physiology, queen pheromone profiles and queen-worker interactions,” the scientists write in the PLoS One paper.

Tarpy said the research could have implications for bee breeding and for beekeepers. The research suggests that queens that mate with multiple partners are superior, so breeders may want to select for this behavior.

At the same time, beekeepers usually buy mated queens when they re-queen their hives. Tarpy said it should be possible to devise a test to determine if a queen has mated few or many times. Such a test would help beekeepers determine the quality of the queens they buy.

Andrew Hyde | alfa
Further information:
http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0000980

Further reports about: Drone Grozinger Pheromone Tarpy colony inseminated mated multiply semen

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Topologische Quantenchemie
21.07.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe

nachricht Topological Quantum Chemistry
21.07.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>