Natural mating of Apis mellifera mellifera honey bee queens in different periods of the season
Research Institute oh Horticulture, Apiculture Division in Puławy, Kazimierska 2, 24-100 Puławy, Poland
Honey bee queens mate with drones in midair and controlling the process is difficult. We decided to measure some factors of natural mating influencing later quality of bee queens. Observed factors were: age of queens when performed first orientation and mating flight, number of flights, age of queens when started laying eggs, number of spermatozoa in the queens spermathecae.
At the first period of observation (queens emergence on 26th of May) number of introduced queens was 27 of which 12 successfully mated and laid eggs. They started flights at the age of 5 days and performed 1 to 4 orientation flights. The queens mated at the age of 7 days, and started oviposition when 11.5 days old on average. At the second period (queens emergence on 17th of June) number of introduced queens was 26 of which 17 successfully mated and laid eggs. The queens started orientation flights at the age of 7 days and performed up to 5 orientation flights. They mated when 9 days old and started oviposition when 14 days old on average.
Additionally some of laying eggs queens were killed to check spermathecae filling. The number of spermatozoa in spermathecae of queens was from 2.875 to 5.250 mln in the first observation period and from 2.300 to 5.550 mln in the second period of observation.