Colony aggregations in Apis mellifera LB. Oldroyda, A. Smolenskia, S. Lawlerb, A. Estoupc and R. Croziera
a School of Genetics and Human Variation, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria 3083, Australia
b Division of Science, La Trobe University, Albury-Wodonga Campus, Wodonga, Victoria 3689, Australia
c CNRS, laboratoire de biologie et génétique évolutives, avenue de la Terrasse, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Abstract - Natural aggregations of A mellifera L have not been reported. However, in the related species A dorsata, aggregations of colonies are common. A survey of the spatial distribution of feral A mellifera colonies showed that they too can be markedly clumped, with up to 10 colonies/ha. For these heavily clumped colonies, we inferred queen genotype from worker samples for: 1) malate dehydrogenase; 2) a mitochondrial DNA polymorphism; and 3) a microsatellite locus. The aggregation examined was composed of colonies headed by potentially related (ie parent/offspring or sister) queens, and unrelated colonies. Thus, it is likely that existing colonies attract swarms and that swarms may not always travel far from the natal nest in an environment that is replete with nesting sites.
Key words: Apis mellifera / Apis dorsata / swarming / nest site / Nasonov pheromone / genetic relationships / microsatellite / mitochondrial DNA