Free Access
Volume 36, Number 2, April-June 2005
the neglected gender - males in bees
Page(s) 245 - 254
Published online 01 June 2005
Apidologie 36 (2005) 245-254
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2005016

Morphological and ultrastructural changes in the mucus glands of Apis mellifera drones during pupal development and sexual maturation

Lien Moorsa, Olivier Spaasa, Gudrun Koenigerb and Johan Billena

a  Zoological Institute, University of Leuven, Naamsestraat 59, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
b  Institut fuer Bienenkunde, Karl-von-Frisch-Weg 2, 61440 Oberursel, Germany

(Received 6 December 2004 - revised 13 January 2005 - accepted 14 January 2005; Published online: 1 June 2005)

Abstract - We investigated the morphology and ultrastructure of the mucus glands of Apis mellifera drones, which represent a peculiar type of male accessory gland. The three different parts of the mucus glands (muscle layer, gland epithelium and lumen) change with respect to age in the distal and the proximal parts. The thickness of musculature and gland epithelium is larger at the proximal part than at the distal part, where the diameter of the lumen is larger. The secretory cells of the epithelium reach their maximum activity during the first days of adult life, which results in a maximally filled gland lumen by the age of 6 days. The mucus glands represent a unique situation as they are of mesodermal origin, whereas the majority of exocrine glands are ectodermal.

Key words: morphology / mucus gland / Apis mellifera / drone

Corresponding author: Lien Moors

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2005