Bee Genetics Clarence H. Collison Emeritus Professor/Dept. Head Mississippi State University
3 Components To A Productive Colony • High Quality Queen • Large Nurse Bee Population • Large Foraging Force
The Queen’s Genetics Plus Drones She Mates With Determines:Colony TemperamentColony SizeProductivity
Beekeepers evaluate queens on basis of colony characteristics: • Brood pattern • Behavior of the queen on the combs • Temperament of workers • Production records
A queen controls fertilization by regulating the release of spermatozoa from her spermatheca.
Her entire supply of spermatozoa is limited to those obtained before she starts egg laying, so she must dispense them gradually.
Several spermatozoa are apparently released each time a fertilized egg is laid, but the actual depletion rate is unknown.
Colony traits change due to different matings.Sperm clump and form layers in the spermatheca.Needs to be considered when judging a queen.
Queen’s spermatheca normally contains 5-7 million spermatozoa.
Queens with sperm counts less than 3 million are unable to head colonies for one season.
Drones are sexually mature at approximately 12 days of age.Sperm count goes down after 20 days of age.
Sperm May Remain Viable In The Spermatheca Of A Queen For At Least Three Years
May Become Drone Layers If Bad Weather Keeps Them FromTaking Mating Flight(s) For Over 20 Days(Lose Urge To Mate)
Queen Mating Flight • 1-2 Weeks Old When She Goes On Her Mating Flight(s) • Almost Always Mates In The Afternoon • Circles Hive Several Times To Orient To The Location Of The Hive • Flies Low To The Ground, Less Than 15 Feet High To Get Away From The Hive Area (Believed To Prevent Inbreeding)
Altitude Of 20 To 100 Feet Is The Only Area Where Drones Will Be Attracted To Her
Queen Mating Flight II • Flies A Long Way Before Going Up In The Breeding Altitude • Mates With 7-15 Drones • Mates With A Drone Every 2-5 Seconds • Gone From The Hive About 13 Minutes • Has A Combined Flight Range Of About ½ To 1 Mile
Post-Mating Behavior • Queen Begins To Lay Approximately 48 Hours After Mating Flight • Once Egg Laying Begins, A Queen Will Not Mate Again
Drone Congregation Areas I • Drones congregate in definite areas outside the hive. • Follow definite flight lanes as they approach these areas. • The same congregation areas are used year after year.
Drone Congregation Areas II • Generally all drones visit a given congregation area in the vicinity of the hives. • Drone congregation areas vary in size. • Boundaries marked by a vertical relief (trees, building, hill etc.)
Drone Congregation Areas III • Drones fly at about tree top level. • When they reach a point marked by a clearing among trees, an open hollow or a slight summit, they assemble and wait for a queen. • Normally fly between 11:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Since A Queen Mates With Several Drones Some Of Her Daughters Have Different Fathers And Some Share The Same Father
Queens Sometimes Lay Inviable Eggs Because Of A Single Gene Resulting In A Shotgun Brood Pattern
If A Queen Is Mated To A Closely Related Drone, She Is Likely To Produce Scattered Brood
There Are Approximately 20 Different Sex Alleles In The Honey Bee Population, All Of Them At Approximately Equal Frequency
A Larva That Has Two Different Sex Alleles Will Develop Into A Normal Female (Worker Or Queen)
A Larva That Has Two Of The Same Sex Allele Will Develop Into An Abnormal Male(Diploid Drone)
Diploid Drone Larvae Are Eaten By Nurse Bees When They Are Less Than A Day Old, Leaving An Empty Cell
Because Of This Problem With Identical Sex Alleles, It Is Important That Queens Mate With Drones With Different Genetic Backgrounds
Mating Has Permanent Effects On Queen Behavior, Physiology And Resultant Queen-Worker Interactions(Richard et al. 2007)
Mating Stimulates Vitellogensis (Formation Of Yolk Protein) And Oocyte Maturation (Egg Formation) In The Ovaries Which Prompts The Initiation Of Egg-Laying(Tanaka & Hartfelder 2004)
Mating Alters The Pheromone Profiles Of Queens Allowing Them To Regulate Many Different Aspects Of Worker Behavior And Colony Organization
Insemination Quantity Significantly Affects Mandibular Gland Chemical Profiles, Queen-Worker Interactions And Brain Gene Expression(Richard et al. 2007)
Virgin Queens Were Compared To Single Drone Inseminated And Multiple Drone (10) Inseminated Queens
Multiple Drone Inseminated Queens Elicited A Stronger Retinue Response Than Single Drone Inseminations
Clear Direct Benefits Of A Queen Mating With Multiple Drones(Tarpy 2003)