Submitted to: International Bee Research Association Conference on Tropical Bees
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/31/2004
Publication Date: 12/20/2004
Citation: Schneider, S.S., DeGrandi-Hoffman, G. Mechanisms that favor the continuity of the African honeybee genome in the Americas. Proc. 8th IBRA Intl. Conf. Tropical Bees and VI Encontro sobre Abelhas, Ribeirao Preto, SP, Brazil. 2004. pp. 232-240. Interpretive Summary: African honey bees have displaced European honey bee populations in almost every region where they have immigrated. In this manuscript we review literature concerning advantages that African honey bees have over Europeans during times of queen replacement and mating. For example, queens with African paternity have a better chance of becoming the new queen in a colony because they emerge sooner and kill more of their rivals than European queens. Sperm from African drones is used at higher rates by queens to fertilize eggs compared with that of European drones. Consequently, colonies where the queen has mated with both European and African drones will have dosproportionately more workers with European paternity. We also discuss the ability of small African swarms to invade and usurp colonies of European bees. We conclude by discussing that a single factor is not responsible for the success of African bees in establishing populations. Instead, several different behavioral and physiological factors have enabled African bees to successfully invade geographic regions and displace the resident European population.
Technical Abstract: The African honey bee subspecies, Apis mellifera scutellata, has colonized much of the Americas in less than 50 years and has largely replaced European bees throughout its range in the New World. In this manuscript, we provide a synthesis of recent research on the African bee, concentrating on its ability to displace European honey bees. Specifically, we consider the genetic composition of the expanding population of African bees, and the mechanisms that favor asymmetric hybridization of African and European bees and the preservation of the African genome. The mechanisms are focused on behavioral and physiological advantages of African bees during queen replacement and the ability of small swarms of African bees to usurp European colonies. We conclude by discussing how several factors including those that directly increase survival and reproductive success of African bees along with more subtle behavioral mechanisms come together to make African honey bees such a successful invasive species.