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Mating frequencies of Africanized honey bees in the south western USA

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Journal of Apicultural Research
Vol. 49 (4) pp. 302-310
October 2010
Article Title

Mating frequencies of Africanized honey bees in the south western USA


David R. Tarpy, Joel R. Caren, Deborah A. Delaney, Diana Sammataro, Jennifer Finley, Gerald M. Loper and Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman


Emerging evidence suggests that there are significant adaptive advantages conferred to genetically diverse honey bee colonies through multiple matings with queens. We determined the intracolony genetic diversity of Africanized honey bee (AHB) colonies from a feral population in the south western USA. A total of 1,253 worker offspring were genotyped from 20 feral colonies (all but three of African mitotype), four managed AHB, three managed European honey bee (EHB), and four control colonies (headed by EHB queens instrumentally inseminated with one, two, five, or ten drones, respectively) using eight microsatellite markers. The 17 feral AHB queens mated with an average of 20.0 ± 6.53 (range 10 – 32) drones, resulting in effective paternity frequencies of 20.0 ± 8.46 (range 10.56 – 37.53), which is one of the highest mating numbers recorded within the species. Though Africanized honey bee colonies are among the most genetically diverse Apis mellifera yet recorded, their queen mating frequencies are within the expected range of the species overall, including African honey bees in their native range. The factors responsible for these findings are discussed.


paternity analysis, genotyping, social insects, polyandry, microsatellites, Africanized honey bees

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