Monday, December 10, 2007 - 3:35 PM

Does wing beat frequency affect mating behavior in the honey bee queens (Apis mellifera L.)?

Devrim Oskay, doskay@yahoo.com1, Edilí Quiñones Ortiz, qedil@yahoo.com1, Susan Cobey, swcobey@ucdavis.edu2, and Tugrul Giray, tgiray2@yahoo.com1. (1) University of Puerto Rico, Department of Biology, PO Box: 23360, san juan, PR, (2) University of California Davis, Deptartment of Entomology, Harry Laidlaw Honey Bee Research Facility, One Shields Ave, Davis, CA

In the theory of sexual selection, mating behavior is explained by identifying two key processes by which evolutionary change can occur; within same sex, or between different sexes. The characteristics that lead to success in this same sex contests evolve because the conquerors are able to mate more often and pass on more of those successful genes. In different sex competition the characteristics evolve in the other sex because animals possessing them are chosen more often as mates, and their genes are passed on. The bee colony normally has a single reproductive female; the queen. Queen bees live up to five years and mate only once during their lifetime. Virgin queen bees are ready to mate within a week after emerging. Mating flights last several days during which the queen bee flies for a length of several meters followed by the drones and she will end up mating with 7 to 17 of them. This study analyzed the acoustics recordings of queen bee flights in various colonies and through various developmental stages to determine the frequencies of the wing beats. Higher wing beat frequencies represent stronger flight muscles. This is important because stronger flying virgin queen bees can mate with stronger flying drones. We tested the hypothesis that flight muscle development differs between same ages and different ages virgin queens, explaining muscle performance differences. Our results show that same and different age group queens have significantly different wing beat frequencies. Young queens have less wing beat frequencies than older queens.

Species 1: Hymenoptera Apidae Apis mellifera (honey bee)