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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Influence of Paternity on Virgin Queen Success in Hybrid Colonies of European and African Honey Bees Apis Mellifera

Authors
item Schneider, Stanley - UNIVERSITY NORTH CAROLINA
item Degrandi-Hoffman, Gloria

Submitted to: Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2002
Publication Date: October 6, 2003
Citation: Schneider, S. S., DeGrandi-Hoffman, G. The influence of paternity on virgin queen success in hybrid colonies of European and African honeybees. 2003. Animal Behaviour 65:883-892.

Interpretive Summary: When Africanized honey bees (AHB)immigrate into an area where there are already established populations of European honey bees (EHB), over time only marker genes for the AHB population can be found. Since EHB and AHB can interbreed, the loss of EHB genetic markers indicates that queens with African fathers might have an advantage over those fathered by European males. This advantage may occur during periods of queen replacement in colonies. Honey bees rear numerous queens during periods of queen replacement, but only one will survive to become the new queen in the colony. In this study we examined components of competition between queens with African and European fathers in colonies that were replacing their queens. The colonies were housed in observation hives so that we could document the behaviors we observed without disturbing the colony. We found that in colonies with European matrilines those queens fathered by European drones emerged sooner, made a characteristic sound called "piping" more often, killed more rival queens, were vibrated more by workers, and were more likely to survive the queen replacement period and become the new queen in the colony then queens fathered by African drones. In contrast, there was no difference between queens fathered by European or African males in colonies with African matrilines. Both types of queens had similar ability to kill rivals, pipe, be vibrated by workers, and survive the queen replacement period. Our results indicate that being fathered by an African male might convey a competitive advantage to queens of European maternity. This would contribute to the spread of African genotypes and the loss of EHB in areas where AHB immigrate.

Technical Abstract: When African honey bees migrate into an area, substantial hybridization occurs with existing European bee populations. However, over time European nuclear and mitochondrial DNA markers disappear until the populations become predominantly or entirely African. European patrilineal traits could be lost when hybrid colonies raise virgin queens, if African-patriline queens have a survival advantage during reproductive competition. We examined queen competition in observation colonies that contained either an African or European matriline, but both patrilines. In both colony matrilines, the virgin queens that survived the elimination process were those that emerged sooner, piped more, eliminated more rivals, and received more vibration signals from workers. These aspects of queen success were strongly influenced by patriline in the European-matriline colonies. In these colonies, African-patriline queens emerged sooner, piped more, killed more rivals, were vibrated at higher rates, and were more likely to survive the replacement period than were their European-patriline sister queens. In contrast, in the African-matriline colonies, queens of both patrilines killed similar proportions of rivals and had similar piping, vibration and survival rates. African paternity may therefore convey a competitive advantage to queens of European maternity, which would contribute to the loss of European alleles in hybrid zones. Furthermore, we observed that vibration signals were produced predominantly by African-paternity workers. The vibration signal may therefore influence the spread of African traits, and this effect may be mediated largely by the behavior of African-paternity workers.

Last Modified: 7/23/2014
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