Free Access
Volume 31, Number 2, March-April 2000
Taxonomy and Evolutionary biology of the Honeybees
Page(s) 301 - 311
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2000124

Apidologie 31 (2000) 301-311

Mating flights and sperm transfer in the dwarf honeybee Apis andreniformis (Smith, 1858)

Gudrun Koenigera - Nikolaus Koenigera - Salim Tingekb - Athanasius Kelitub

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 spermatheca.

Keywords: Apis andreniformis / queen / mating flight / sperm transfer/ spermatozoa count

Correspondence and reprints: Gudrun Koeniger

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