Free access
Volume 30, Number 4, 1999
Page(s) 257 - 276
Apidologie 30 (1999) 257-276
DOI: 10.1051/apido:19990402

Testing reliability of a potential island mating apiary using DNA microsatellites

Peter Neumanna, b, Job P. van Praaghc, Robin F.A. Moritza and Jost H. Dustmannc

a  Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Fachgebiet Molekulare Ökologie, Institut für Zoologie, Kröllwitzerstr. 44, 06099 Halle/Saale, Germany
b  Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 61440, South Africa
c  Niedersächsisches Landesinstitut für Bienenkunde Celle, Wehlstr. 4a, 29223 Celle, Germany

Abstract - Twenty-four virgin sister queens were kept for 21 days in mating nuclei on the drone-free island Baltrum to test the reliability of a potential mating area. On each of the neighbouring islands Nordemey and Langeoog (750 m and 2 km away) 12 sister queens were kept with drones. Workers from colonies with island-mated queens (Baltrum n = 11, Langeoog n = 7 and Nordemey n = 6) were genotyped with four DNA microsatellite loci (n = 996) to estimate queen mating frequency. No differences in queen mating frequency were observed between Langeoog and Nordemey. However, the level of polyandry on Baltrum was significantly lower than on the neighbouring islands, indicating that mating conditions were much more difficult. The standard genetic distance and differences in allele frequencies between the populations were determined to estimate putative origins of the drones. In this study, 43.7 % of the identified drone fathers did not descend from any of the queens on the adjacent islands. They were most likely from mainland colonies at least 5.4 km (3 km across open water) away, showing that the combination of distances over open water and over dry land is important in explaining the mating behaviour of honeybee queens. © Inra/DIB/AGIB/Elsevier, Paris

Key words: Apis mellifera / DNA microsatellite / island / mating control / polyandry