Free Access
Volume 25, Number 6, 1994
Page(s) 530 - 539
Apidologie 25 (1994) 530-539
DOI: 10.1051/apido:19940603

Developmental patterns associated with founding and swarming in colonies of the African honey bee race, Apis mellifera scutellata Lepeletier

S.S. Schneider and L.C. McNally

Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223, USA

Abstract - The developmental patterns of naturally occurring, recently founded colonies of the African honey bee race, Apis mellifera scutellata, were examined in the Okavango River Delta, Botswana. Colonies moved into the study area beginning in mid-June. During the first 3-4 months after founding, colonies devoted most comb area to worker brood production, reared few or no drones, emphasized pollen collection, yet stored little food. Reproductive swarming occurred in October-November, at which time brood production declined, and food storage and drone production increased. Thus, the developmental strategy of newly founded colonies in the Okavango is geared towards rapid growth and the immediate channeling of harvested resources into worker brood, which culminates in a relatively brief period of reproductive swarming. The developmental patterns for the Okavango colonies are similar to those reported for the Africanized honey bee in South America, although the Okavango colonies may have a shorter swarming season.

Key words: Apis mellifera scutellata / swarming / colony founding / brood / Africa