Multiple Mating
Mating Behaviour
Evolution of Multiple Mating
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Mating Frequency in Honey Bees...
Another Inbreeding Compensation

The mating Frequency (degree of multiple mating or polyandry) is always high in honeybees, but varies between the different subspecies of Apis mellifera, with Apis Mellifera Larmarckii having thelowest mean observed numbers of mating at 5.0 and Apis Mellifera Capensis the highest at 34.0 (Franck et al. 2000). The black honey bee Apis mellifera mellifera has intermediate mating frequencies averaging out at 16.5 (Estoup et al. 1994; Kryger and Moritz 1997). Virgin queens normally fly 2–3 km, and dronesfurther (Ruttner and Ruttner 1966; Böttcher1975). The maximum recorded mating distancebetween a queen’s hive and those of her mates is17 km (Winston 1987). Quantifying honey bee mating range and isolation in semi-isolated valleysby DNA microsatellite paternity analysisAnnette B. Jensen1,2,4,*, Kellie A. Palmer1,2, Nicolas Chaline3, Nigel E. Raine3,Adam Tofilski3, Stephen J. Martin3, Bo V. Pedersen1, Jacobus J. Boomsma2&Francis L.W. Ratnieks31Institute of Biology, Department of Evolutionary Biology, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15,DK, 2100, Copenhagen Ø, Denmark;2Institute of Biology, Department of Population Biology, University ofCopenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, DK, 2100, Copenhagen Ø, Denmark;3Laboratory of Apiculture & SocialInsects, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN,United Kingdom;4Present address: Department of Ecology, Section of Zoology, The Royal Veterinary andAgricultural University, Thorvaldsensvej 40, DK, 1871, Frederiksberg C., Denmark Honey bee males and queens mate in mid air and can fly many kilometres on their nuptial flights. Theconservation of native honey bees, such as the European black bee (Apis mellifera mellifera), therefore,requires large isolated areas to prevent hybridisation with other subspecies, such as A. m. ligustica or A.m. carnica, which may have been introduced by beekeepers. This study used DNA microsatellitemarkers to determine the mating range of A. m. mellifera in two adjacent semi-isolated valleys (Edaleand Hope Valley) in the Peak District National Park, England, in order to assess their suitability fornative honey bee conservation and as isolated mating locations. Three apiaries were set up in eachvalley, each containing 12 colonies headed by a virgin queen and 2 queenright drone producing hives.The virgin queens were allowed to mate naturally with drones from the hives we had set up and withdrones from hives owned by local beekeepers. After mating, samples of worker larvae were taken fromthe 41 queens that mated successfully and genotyped at 11 DNA microsatellite loci. Paternity analyseswere then carried out to determine mating distances and isolation. An average of 10.2 fathers weredetected among the 16 worker progeny. After correction for non-detection and non-sampling errors, themean effective mating frequency of the test queens was estimated to be 17.2, which is a normal figurefor honey bees. Ninety percent of the matings occurred within a distance of 7.5 km, and fifty percentwithin 2.5 km. The maximal mating distance recorded was 15 km. Queens and drones did occasionallymate across the borders between the two valleys, showing that the dividing mountain ridge Losehilldoes not provide complete isolation. Nevertheless, in the most isolated part of Edale sixty percent of allmatings were to drones from Edale hives. The large majority of observed mating distances fell withinthe range of Hope Valley, making this site a suitable location for the long term conservation of abreeding population of black bees. Conservation Genetics (2005) 6:527–537Ó Springer 2005DOI 10.1007/s10592-005-9007-7 Introduction During the past few 100 years the distribution ofhoney bees, Apis mellifera, in Europe has beenseverely affected by man, particularly by theintroduction and propagation of non-native sub-species (Ruttner 1988a). Honey bee mating is,contrary to other domesticated animals, very dif-ficult to control, so that gene flow between hon-eybee subspecies is common (Franck et al. 1998;Garnery et al. 1998a, 1998b). This has resulted inhybridisation and introgression, or even thereplacement of one subspecies by another. InGermany, massive importation of A. m. carnicahas led to the almost complete replacement ofnative A. m. mellifera (Kauhausen-Keller andKeller 1994; Maul and Hähnle, 1994). We are onlyrecently beginning to understand the consequencesof this interference, which will increase genetichomogenisation and decrease natural diversity(Rhymer and Simberloff 1996; Olden et al. 2004).Apis mellifera mellifera is the native subspeciesin Britain and NW Europe, whereas other Euro-pean subspecies have been introduced. The Italiansubspecies A. m. ligustica was occasionally intro-duced to Britain as early as 1859 (Dews and Mil-ner 1991; Cooper 1986). Mass importation intoBritain started around 1915 following the loss ofmany colonies due to the ‘‘Isle of Wight’’ disease,which eliminated a large proportion of the nativehoney bee population. Several other subspecies,such as A. m. carnica, and A. m. cecropia have beenand continue to be introduced. Greater honeyproduction, quicker spring build up, lowerswarming tendency, and lower defensiveness weresome of the motivations for introduction (Ruttner1988a). In addition, queens are often importedsimply because they are cheaper or more available.However, beekeepers in Britain and NW Europeare becoming increasingly interested in conservingthe native subspecies. Bee Improvement and BeeBreeders’ Association (BIBBA) actively promotesthe conservation of A. m. mellifera, especially inBritain and Ireland, while Societas Internationaluspro Conservatione Apis mellifera mellifera (SI-CA. m. mellifera) has much of its membership in Scandi-navia.Conservation of native honey bee subspecies isdesirable for conserving European biodiversity andthis conservation is not incompatible with thedesire of beekeepers to have better bees. Honey beepopulations are variable and by selecting breedingstock beekeepers can favour desirable characteris-tics. For example, black bee colonies in Derby-shire, England, are highly variable in theirdefensivity (tendency to sting) (F.L.W. Ratnieks,personal observation). This trait is highly heritablemaking it practical for beekeepers to breed andkeep native bees that are not highly defensive, andhence are easier to keep, especially in a countrysuch as England with a high density of people. Inaddition, black honey bees almost certainly havecharacteristics that make them more suitable thanother subspecies to the climate of NW Europe.Many beekeepers in northern England value theability of black bees to survive in a climate with lowsummer temperatures and unsettled weather thatfrequently prevents foraging even in spring andsummer. Another issue of the conservation is thatin order to produce hybrid bees such as Buckfastbees, which some beekeepers claim to be moreproductive in respect to honey yield, it is necessaryto keep some stocks or populations pure.In 1997 the BIBBA began requeening hivesowned by beekeepers in the Hope Valley in thePeak District, Derbyshire, England using A. m. mellifera queens that they had bred from stock obtained within the British Isles. The aim was to establish a geographically confined population ofnative honey bees, A. m. mellifera that would besemi-isolated from gene flow from neighbouringareas. The Hope Valley was chosen because it is ofa suitable size (c. 12Â6 km) and because it is sur-rounded by low mountains (up to 600 m) andmoorlands. The mountains should provide someisolation, both by their height and windy tops andbecause they are unsuitable for keeping bees.Edale is a smaller valley (c. 6Â3 km) leading intothe Hope Valley (see Figure 1). In Edale one of us(FR) noticed that no honey bees could be seen onflowers, and local people confirmed that there wereno beekeepers in the last decade. This stronglysuggested that Edale had no honey bee colonies,either in hives or natural nests. Edale, therefore,had potential as an isolated mating site for selec-tive breeding.In honey bees the mating system is character-ized by ‘‘drone congregation areas’’ that are visitedby males from many colonies (Baudry et al. 1998).Virgin queens visit these on one to several nuptialflights, which typically take place in the secondweek of the queen’s adult life (Woyke 1964) and mate with numerous drones (Ruttner 1988b). Thedegree of multiple mating (polyandry) is alwayshigh but varies between the different subspecies ofA. mellifera, with A. m. larmarckii having thelowest mean observed numbers of mating at 5.0and A. m. capensis the highest at 34.0 (Francket al. 2000). The black honey bee A. m. melliferahas intermediate mating frequencies averaging16.5 (Estoup et al. 1994; Kryger and Moritz 1997).Virgin queens normally fly 2–3 km, and dronesfurther (Ruttner and Ruttner 1966; Böttcher1975). The maximum recorded mating distancebetween a queen’s hive and those of her mates is17 km (Winston 1987). No studies have investi-gated the distribution of mating distances, so thatit is unknown how exceptional this distance is.Several new studies of honey bees in Europehave shown that most A. m. mellifera populationsare threatened by hybridisation and introgressionwith other introduced honey bee subspecies(Garnery et al. 1998a, 1998b; Jensen et al. 2005).For the conservation of remaining A. m. melliferapopulations it is thus important to gain informa-tion on mating distances and isolation at a localscale. The aim of the present study was to deter-mine mating distances and isolation in Hope Val-ley and Edale in order to plan future conservationand controlled breeding activities. To do this weused DNA microsatellite markers to determine thefathers of the worker progeny of queens that ma-ted naturally in these valleys.Materials and methodsExperimental designThe basic design was for virgin queens and dronesto make mating flights from hives at differentlocations in the two semi-isolated valleys, so that adistribution of mating distances could be obtainedby paternity analysis of worker progeny usingDNA microsatellites. The paternity analysis useddata on the genotypes of the worker progeny, thegenotypes of their mothers (the mated test queens)and the genotypes of their possible fathers (thedrone producing queens) (Figure 2). MaleHymenoptera are haploid and are produced byarrhenotokous parthenogenesis. As a result, thesummation of offspring drone genotypes can beused to determine their mother queen’s diploidgenotype (Figure 2).Experimental apiaries and their positioningSix experimental apiaries were established; three inHope Valley and three in Edale. In Hope ValleyFigure 1. Map of Edale and Hope Valley, with the approximate areas indicated by dotted-line envelopes. Virgin queens flew frommating nucleus hives in six apiaries (•) and mated with drones from the same six apiaries and from hives belonging to local beekeepers(n). Villages are indicated by open circles and names.529 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 4 the apiaries were approximately 4–6 km apart andplaced in the west (Losehill Hall), centre (Platt’sfarm) and east (Stoke’s farm) of the valley,respectively (Figure 1). In Edale the apiaries wereapproximately 2.5 km apart with the centrally lo-cated apiary at Edale Mill being about 2.5 kmfrom the other two (Barber Booth to the west andCarr House to the east) and from the Losehill Hallapiary in Hope Valley. Within Edale matingscould be achieved by level flying along the valley,whereas Losehill, a mountain ridge of c. 500 m,separates Losehill Hall from Edale. Since Edale isconnected to Hope Valley at the village Hope (seeFigure 1), bees from Edale could still meet andmate with bees from Losehill Hall by level flyingalong that route, but would have to fly further.Each apiary contained 12 queen mating coloniesand two drone producing colonies. In addition,two more apiaries were set up in Hope Valley eachwith just two drone-producing hives.Drone producing and queen mating hive set upDrone production was stimulated in the experi-mental apiaries by giving colonies frames of dronecomb and sugar syrup. The numbers of dronesFigure 2. Transmission of genes in the experimental setup. The drone mother queens contributed their gametes to the worker progenyof the test queen via matings of their haploid sons. The genotype of each drone mother queen was deduced from the genotypes ofpooled tissue from c. 10–20 drones per colony. The genotype of each mated test queen was deduced from her worker progeny.Subsequently the workers were assigned to a drone mother queen through paternity analysis.530 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 5 reared in each drone producing colony were esti-mated by photographing the drone combapproximately 4 weeks before mating took place.Samples of 10–20 drone pupae were taken fromeach colony for genetic analysis to determine thegenotype of the drone mother queen.Queen mating hives were set up with 4–6frames of bees and brood but without any males ora queen. A marked virgin queen was then intro-duced into each mating hive using a mailing cage.The virgins were reared using standard queenrearing procedures (Laidlaw and Page 1997). Allqueens were sisters, reared from the same breedercolony, except for a few that developed as emer-gency queens from worker cells. The virgin queenswere released from their cages at approximately1 week of age and allowed to mate. Approximately6 weeks later, worker pupae or larvae were sam-pled from each colony with a successfully matedqueen and used for genetic analyses.Local coloniesBeekeepers in the Hope Valley allowed us toinspect their colonies for drone productionapproximately 4 weeks before the experimentalmatings took place. Drone production wasobserved in 25 of the colonies inspected. Samplesof 4–20 drone pupae were taken from all thesecolonies for genotyping and paternity assignment.The local beekeepers are organised in a club andcooperated fully with us, so that we believe to havea fairly complete sample of colonies in HopeValley. We also obtained DNA of a single workerbee from all the colonies to estimate thebackground allele frequencies in the Valley. Theseestimates were applied for statistical inferences ofthe likelihood of deduced queen genotypes and forpaternity analysis.Genetic AnalysisDrone and worker samplesEqual amounts of tissue were taken from eachdrone from a given colony (a single leg from pupaeor an equal amount of larval tissue) and DNA wasextracted from the pooled tissue sample with theDNeasy tissue kit (QIAGEN, Inc., Santa Clara,California). Seventeen microsatellite loci (A7, A8,A24, A28, A43, A88, A113, Ap33, Ap36, Ap43,B124, A14, A76, A79, Ap218, Ap85, Ac11) wereamplified and analysed for each of the 37 dronemother colonies according to standard procedures(Baudry et al. 1998; Solignac et al. 2003). Thecombination of the eleven most variable loci (Ta-ble 1) produced multilocus genotypes that coulduniquely identify drones from each drone mothercolony. DNA was also extracted from 16 imma-ture workers from each mated test queen using theChelexÒextraction technique (Walsh et al. 1991).The same 11 microsatellite loci were amplified andanalysed for each of these workers.Paternity analysisGenotypes of each of the mated test queens werededuced from the genotypes of their 16 workeroffspring using MateSoft Version 1.0 b (Moilanenet al. 2004), which analyse male-haplodiploidmating systems based on the expression of co-dominant genetic markers, such as DNA micro-satellites. Because honeybee queens mate multiply,MateSoft’s ‘‘broad deduction’’ method was cho-sen. MateSoft calculates the weighted probabilitiesof all possible queen genotypes, based on theobserved allele frequencies in the population. Atany locus the queen genotype may be determinedunambiguously or there may be several alternativepossibilities. When the analysis indicated severalpossible queen genotypes, we only used the lociwhere the weighted probabilities of the most likelygenotype were above 0.80.Worker offspring were assigned to drone mo-ther queens using the likelihood-based method inCervus 2.0 (Marshall et al. 1998), a softwarepackage which performs large-scale parentageanalysis in diplo-diploid mating systems usingco-dominant genetic markers. To overcome com-plications due to haplodiploidy, worker progenywere assigned to drone mother queens rather thanto the father drones themselves, because dronescan be regarded as the flying gametes of a queen,each drone producing clonal sperm. We assumed agenotyping error rate across all loci and individu-als of 1% and a sampling coverage of 95% of thecandidate parents (drone mother queens), thusallowing for the possibility that there were addi-tional colonies we did not know about. Statisticalconfidence limits of the most likely parentalassignments were obtained from the difference in531 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 6 the log likelihood of the most likely and the secondmost likely parent compared to a test statisticproduced in a simulation model. Paternityassignment of particular worker offspring to aparticular drone mother queen was, however, onlyaccepted if it involved at most two mismatchesbetween the putative drone mother queen (father),the mated test queen (mother) and the offspringgenotypes.Worker progeny from each mated test queenthat were assigned to the same drone motherqueen might originate from either the same droneor from brother drones. By subtracting the matedtest queen’s own genotype we were able to groupsibling offspring into patrilines (Figure 2). We thusestimated the observed mating frequency of eachmated queen by the number of patrilines detectedin her offspring sample. The effective mating fre-quency of each mated test queen was calculatedwith a correction for finite sample size and unequalpaternal contributions (paternity skew) (Pamilo1993; Boomsma and Ratnieks 1996).me¼ ðn À 1Þ= nXki¼1y2iÀ 1!where k is the number of patrilines observed, yiisthe observed proportion of the ith patriline, and nis the number of workers genotyped.ResultsAccuracy of paternity analysisOur genetic analyses had great power. The prob-ability of justifiably excluding a single randomlychosen unrelated drone mother queen from par-entage at one or more loci was 99.75 when onlydata on the genotypes of the offspring worker andcandidate parent (drone mother queen) were used.This rose to 99.99 when the deduced genotypes ofthe mated test queen were also used (Table 1). 595(90.7%) of the genotyped offspring were assignedto the experimental or beekeeper-owned dronemother queens from Edale and Hope Valley with aconfidence of P>0.80, (548 with P>0.95). 61worker offspring (9.3%) could not be assigned toany of the known drone mother queens, and arethus most likely to have fathers from non-sampledhives belonging to beekeepers in the Hope Valleyor from drones that had flown in from outside.Table 1. The 11 DNA microsatellite markers used for paternity analysis and the locus-specific MgCl2concentration, annealingtemperature (Ta), number and size range of the alleles, expected heterozygosity (He), average exclusion probabilities for a single parent(Exclusion 1) and a second parent when the first parent is known (Exclusion 2)Locus[MgCl2]Ta(C)No. allelesSize range(bp)HeExclusion 1Exclusion 2A7a1.2 mM558105–1260.6010.2110.386A113b1.2 mM5511200–2360.4290.1050.266Ap43c1.2 mM556134–1490.6380.2200.368A85d1.5 mM557190–2020.7400.3480.530B124a1.5 mM5513216–2500.8870.6270.772A76a1.2 mM6024209–3150.8960.6600.795A79c1.2 mM60991–1180.5150.1460.308Ap36c1.2 mM5511141–1690.8600.6010.752Ap33c1.2 mM5515223–2570.8760.5540.716Ac11d1.5 mM5510111–1290.7810.4040.582A14d1.5 mM5515216–2560.8160.4790.651Mean=11.7Combined=0.99785Combined=0.99996Average exclusion probabilities were obtained by summing individual exclusion probabilities across all combinations of genotypes,weighted by genotype frequencies. The combined exclusion probabilities across all loci represent the average probability of excluding asingle randomly chosen unrelated individual from parentage.Data are based on 734 individuals. The markers used were obtained from:aEstoup et al. 1994;bEstoup et al. (1995);cBaudry et al.(1998) anddSolignac et al. (2003).532 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 7 Non-assignable offspring were observed in 28 ofthe 41 mated test queens.Mating frequency and mating distancesThe 16 worker progeny from each of the 41 matedqueens gave an average of 10.2 (SE±2.02) fathersdetected per queen. The lowest recorded numberof detected fathers was 5 and the highest 14 (Fig-ure 3). As a result, the entire analysis is based on418 confirmed matings in total. There was nosignificant difference between the mean number ofobserved matings per apiary in an unbalancedanalysis of variance (F5,35=0.12, P=0.987). Themean estimated effective paternity per queen was17.2 (SE±10.9). We defined mating distance as thedistance between the position of the drone pro-ducing hive and the position of the mating hivehosting the mated queen. The maximum matingdistance was approximately 15 km, which wasobserved in one queen. Most of the offspringresulted from mating distances of 7.5 km or less(Figure 4). Approximate one fifth of the matingsoccurred between queens and drones that origi-nated from the same apiary.Mating locationsMore than half of the matings (53.8%) in thethree apiaries in Edale took place with dronesproduced in Edale and two thirds (66.4%) of thematings in the three apiaries in Hope Valley tookplace with drones produced in Hope Valley(Table 2). Overall, approximately 80% of allmatings of Edale queens took place with dronesproduced in Edale and the two immediatelyFigure 3. Distribution of observed number of matings of test queens based on genetic analysis of 16 worker offspring per queen. Thecurve is a fitted binominal distribution.Figure 4. Distributions of mating distances. The cumulative distribution of mating distances is plotted as the curve, whereas the barsindicate the separate percentages of matings obtained at specific mating distances. Ninety percent of the offspring resulted from matingdistances of 7.5 km or less and half of the offspring from mating distances of 2.5 km or less (see dotted lines).533 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 8 adjacent Hope Valley locations, Losehill Hall(9%) and Hope (16%). This shows that Edale isrelatively but not fully isolated. In addition, theproportion of matings in Edale that could not beassigned to a known drone mother queensincreased from zero in the most westerly apiary,Barber Booth, to 13% when moving east in thedirection of Hope.A higher proportion of matings from HopeValley (19%) could not be assigned to knowndrone mother queens compared to the matings inEdale (7%) (Table 2). The two Edale apiaries inthe middle (Edale Mill) and west (Barber Booth)both had queens that only mated with drones fromEdale hives, whereas all queens from the easternEdale apiary, Carr House, had mated with at leastone drone originating outside Edale. In the threeHope Valley apiaries some of the queens hadmated with drones originating from Edale, espe-cially at the western most apiary Losehill Hallwhere two thirds of the queens had mated with atleast one drone from Edale. This suggests thatgene flow occurs both ways between the two val-leys and that drones are able to fly over Losehill,the mountain directly between the Losehill Hallapiary and the Edale Mill apiary.DiscussionThe high resolution of the genetic markers and thelarge sample size of matings imply that our resultspresent a clear picture of mating distances in twoadjacent valleys. We were able to show that queensand drones from the two valleys do mate. The 11microsatellite loci provided the necessary power todetermine the origin of most of the drone fathersand to distinguish father drones that were brothers.The results were in good agreement with previousstudies of mating frequency and mating distance inhoney bees.PolyandryPolyandry is the rule in honey bees and the numberof matings per queen is high. Several papers havediscussed the evolutionary aspects of polyandry inhoney bees and other social insects (e.g. Boomsmaand Ratnieks 1996; Palmer and Oldroyd 2000). Thecurrent view is that polyandry increases the fitnessof a queen through increased genetic variabilityamong her worker offspring. Advantages of in-creased intra-colonial genetic variability may beimprovements in social organisation and toleranceto environmental changes including pathogens.Division of labour and reproduction greatlyreduces the effective population sizes of social in-sects like honey bees, because a very small numberof individuals produce all the offspring, while thelarge majority are non-reproducing workers thathelp their mother to raise siblings and maintain thecolony (Crozier 1979). The number of colonies in agiven honeybee population is therefore much clo-ser to the effective population size than the actualnumbers of bees. However, when queens are matedto multiple males, the effective population sizeincreases considerably (Crozier and Page 1985), soTable 2. Proportion of matings according to location (see Figure 1) of the drone mother coloniesDrone mother colony locationsQueen mating apiaries in EdaleAll EdaleBarber BoothEdale MillCarr HouseEdale60.00%54.29%49.14%53.87%Hope Valley40.00%40.00%37.93%39.11%Edale, Hope, Losehill Hall85.88%81.43%71.55%78.60%Unknown0.00%5.71%12.93%7.01%Drone mother colony locationsQueen mating apiaries in Hope ValleyAll Hope ValleyLosehil HallPlatt’s farmStoke’s farmEdale19.75%7.14%10.34%14.50%Hope Valley61.73%78.57%62.07%66.40%Unknown18.52%14.29%27.59%19.10%534 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 9 that high queen-mating frequencies are desirable inhoney bee conservation.Our estimate of queens mating with17.2 dronesis in close agreement with previous estimates forA. m. mellifera (on average 16.5) (Estoup et al.1994; Kryger and Moritz 1997) and indicates thatmating was normal. The mating frequency in ourstudy might be slight overestimations due to therather small number of offspring sampled, espe-cially for colonies with high numbers of observedpatrilines (Tarpy and Nielsen 2002). The locationof apiaries can also have a significant effect onmating frequencies. In A. m. carnica the effectivemating frequency was higher in a mainland apiarycompared to an island apiary, where high windspeeds and relative low temperatures (15–20 °C)prevail during the mating flights (Neumann et al.1999). It remains to be explored, however, whethernative A. m. mellifera that have adapted to suchharsh environments for thousands of years mightperform better than A. m. carnica, which evolvedin a continental environment.Reproductive isolationA considerable recent research effort has focusedon locating and characterising the remainingpopulations of native black bees in Europe(Franck et al. 1998; Garnery et al. 1998a, 1998b;Jensen et al. 2005). Now that these efforts arebecoming successful, maintaining stocks of nativeblack bees becomes relevant. In some countriescontrolled breeding for certified bee breeders takesplace on small islands. In Denmark, for example,such locations have to be approved every year bythe Danish Plant Directorate (Anonymus 1993).However, island-based isolated mating stations arenot practical in all countries, and controlledbreeding is often achieved by creating matingstations isolated by distance or topography such asmountain valleys (Ruttner 1988b), so that detailedinformation on mating distances becomes impor-tant. In the present study the mating distanceswere mostly below 8 km. Peer and Farrrar (1956)observed mating distances of 9–10 km by usingcordovan queens and cordovan drones eventhough wild type drones were abundantly avail-able at shorter distances. (Cordovan is a single-locus recessive body-colour marker). The maximalmating distance recorded in our study wasapproximately 15 km, which is in accord withother biological observations (Klatt 1929, 1932;Peer 1957).Edale, which was free of honey bee coloniesprior to our experiment, is semi-isolated in terms ofhoney bee mating. As expected, the geographicallymost isolated apiary, Barber Booth in westernEdale, which is surrounded on three sides byinhospitable mountains and moorlands, was themost isolated location in terms of honey bee mat-ing. An increasing proportion of matings to dronesoriginating from outside Edale was observed fur-ther down the valley in the direction of Hope, whereseveral local beekeepers live. Edale queens alsomated with drones from Losehill Hall, and viceversa, showing that Losehill Mountain does notprovide complete reproductive isolation. Queens,drones or both were apparently able to fly over oraround this 500 m high mountain (but rising only c.300 m from the valley bottoms), since quite manycolonies contained offspring of fathers from bothsides of Losehill. This corroborates a study byRuttner (1976) that used a colour mutant andmarked drones to show that they were able toovercome differences in altitude of 500 m or moreand return to their hives. This indicates that evenconsiderable differences in altitude are not sufficientto provide complete mating isolation, and thatother factors such as the overall topography of theterrain and the local climate also play a role.About one fifth of the queen matings in HopeValley were to drones from unknown drone mo-ther queens suggesting that significant gene flowfrom the surrounding areas is unavoidable even infairly well isolated valleys. However, the actualproportion of outside matings is almost certainlylower as the limited number of drones in some ofthe samples from beekeeper-owned colonies mayhave resulted in undetected alleles in their mothers.This implies that some of the unassigned offspringmight in fact have been offspring of these dronemothers. A recent method of genotyping livequeens from small pieces of wing tip (c. 2 mm2)(Châline et al. 2004) would eliminate problemswith undetected queen alleles and could be used todetermine the genotypes of drone mother queensand mated test queens directly instead of having toinfer them from samples of progeny. In addition,there may have been some beekeeper-owned col-onies that we were not aware during our sampling.535 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 10 Conservation implicationsOver the last century the number of beekeepers inNW Europe and thus the number of honey beecolonies, in particular A. m. mellifera, hasdecreased significantly. Wild colonies are rarebecause very few old hollow trees have remainedstanding in modern landscapes and because Var-roa mite infections tend to be fatal for untreatedcolonies. The maintenance of populations of na-tive black honey bees thus relies on active coop-eration with beekeepers, as all beekeepers in acertain area need to be comply with keeping nativehoney bees only to maximize the success of con-servation efforts. A case in point illustrating suchan active cooperative conservation effort is therequeening program of the honey bee populationin Hope Valley that was initiated by BIBBA.Our present results show that the effectivemating distance is similar to the size of the HopeValley, confirming that this area is a reasonablelocation for maintaining a panmictic and relativelypure population of black honey bees. It will benecessary, however, to continue the conservationprogrA. m. melliferae in the entire area of the valley and tofurther reduce hybridisation with imported bees,such as the yellow Italian bee A. m. ligustica, ifnecessary by requeening.Several studies have investigated the effect ofcommercial honeybees on the native fauna ofother, annual and often solitary bees. RecentlyForup and Memmott (2005) showed a negativeassociation between bumblebee and honeybeeabundance, but no apparent effect of honeybeedensity on bumblebee diversity. So, although theremight be competition between honeybees andother bees, the ultimate effect of these interactionsare as yet unclear. However, it is prudent to alsotake the presence of other endangered bees andnon-bee pollinators into consideration whendesigning new potential A. m. mellifera reserves.Conservation and improvement of native hon-ey bee populations is a challenge due to the spec-tacular open-mating system of honey bees. Theinformation obtained in the present study is,therefore, important for evaluating the status andimprovement of both new and existing reserves fornative honey bees. More specifically it appears thatHope Valley and Edale can play complementaryroles in the conservation of A. m. mellifera inBritain through, respectively, their suitability formaintaining a large breeding population, and thepossibility for controlled matings.AcknowledgementsABJ, KAP, and NC were funded by the EU(FW5-ENV) research network ‘Beekeeping andApis Biodiversity in Europe’ (BABE) (contractEVK2-CT-2000-00068). We thank the local (EastMidlands) branch of BIBBA (Bee Improvementand Bee Breeders Association) and beekeepers andlandowners in Edale and Hope Valley for theirassistance during the bee sampling and for pro-viding land to set up apiaries.ReferencesAnonymus (1993) Danish law of beekeeping No 11, article 14.Baudry E, Solignac M, Garnery L, Gries M, Cornuet J-M,Koeniger N (1998) Relatedness among honeybees (Apismellifera) of a drone congregation. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B.,265, 2009–2014.Boomsma JJ, Ratnieks FLW (1996) Paternity in eusocialHymenoptera. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. 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In general honeybee queens mate with at least ten drones, but even more than forty matings were detected. In contrast, drone honeybees die during copulation and are thus strictly monogamous. Queens often take multiple nuptial flights. The cost of multiple nuptial flights was studied in relation to potential benefits. The mating frequency of naturally mated queens was analysed using DNA fingerprinting. Queens that were restricted to one nuptial flight, but wanted to take an additional flight, had significantly fewer matings than queens which started oviposition after a single nuptial flight. Moreover, the sperm number stored in the spermatheca significantly increased with the number of matings. Presumably, queens adjust their nuptial flight frequency according to the mating success of the previous nuptial flights. Furthermore, the findings suggest that a certain number of matings is required to fill the spermatheca to its storage capacity. The average sperm number per copulation or nuptial flight that a queen receives depends on the sperm numbers produced by the drones. Yet, drones might differ in sperm numbers for several reasons. Wing lengths (size indicator) and sperm numbers of small and large drones were compared. Small drones produce significantly fewer spermatozoa than normally sized drones. The rearing investment per spermatozoon is lower for small than for normally sized drones because small drones produce more spermatozoa in relation to their body weight. Since colonies usually produce large drones, the enhanced investment must be outweighed by a mating advantage of large drones. The varying sperm numbers of drones can have an impact on their individual fitness. But in addition, the pattern of sperm utilization by the queen affects the drones fitness. Thus, the consequences of sperm utilization for the fitness of the queen’s mates were studied using DNA-fingerprinting. The impact of the insemination sequence and the amount of semen on the sperm utilization were analysed. The data show no significant effect of the insemination sequence but a strong impact of the semen volume of a drone on the frequency of his worker offspring in the colony. This effect was not linear and the patriline frequencies of the drones contributing larger semen volumes are disproportionately enhanced. If these observations are also valid for natural matings, drone honeybees should maximise the number of sperm but not apply specific mating tactics to be first or last male in a mating sequence. Schlüns, H., Moritz, R. F. A., Neumann, P., Kryger, P. & Koeniger, G. (2005) Multiple nuptial flights, sperm transfer and the evolution of extreme polyandry in honeybee queens. Animal Behaviour, 70, 125-131. Schlüns, H., Koeniger, G., Koeniger, N. & Moritz, R. F. A. (2004) Sperm utilization pattern in the honeybee (Apis mellifera). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 56, 458-463. Schlüns, H., Schlüns, E. A., van Praagh, J. & Moritz, R. F. A. (2003) Sperm numbers in drone honeybees (Apis mellifera) depend on body size. Apidologie, 34, 577-584.

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