Apidologie 31 (2000) 301-311
Mating flights and sperm transfer in the dwarf honeybee Apis andreniformis (Smith, 1858)
aInstitut für Bienenkunde (Polytechnische Gesellschaft), FB Biologie der
J.-W. Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main, Karl-von-Frisch Weg 2, 61440 Oberursel, Germany
bAgricultural Research Station, Peti Surat 197, Tenom 89908, Sabah, Malaysia
Mating flights of 3 virgin queens of Apis andreniformis were observed at their natural nesting site.
They initiated mating flights between 12.33 and 12.50 h. The flight duration was between 19 and 23
minutes. The sting chamber of the returning queens contained the orange-colored secretion from the cornual
gland of the drone's endophallus. Immediately after the mating flights, the queens were dissected. No
sperm was detected in the oviducts, but spermatozoa were found in the spermathecae. In 2 queens, the
spermathecae contained 0.09 million spermatozoa, which corresponds to about 75
The third queen had 0.31 million spermatozoa. The spermatozoa in the spermatheca were observed to be
moving, and formed an undulating thread. These results suggest that sperm is transferred not into the
oviducts but directly into the spermatheca (via the spermaduct). Seven egg-laying queens of unknown age
had between 0.33 and 1.26 million spermatozoa in their spermathecae. The mode of sperm transfer is
discussed in relation to the number and sequence of the spermatozoa received from each drone in the
Apis andreniformis / queen / mating flight / sperm transfer/ spermatozoa count
Correspondence and reprints: Gudrun Koeniger
Copyright INRA/DIB/AGIB/EDP Sciences
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