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Insects. 2014 Jul 1;5(3):513-27. doi: 10.3390/insects5030513.

Observation of the Mating Behavior of Honey Bee (Apis mellifera L.) Queens Using Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID): Factors Influencing the Duration and Frequency of Nuptial Flights.

Author information

1
LLH, Bee Institute, Erlenstrasse 9, D-35274 Kirchhain, Germany. ina.heidinger@gmx.de.
2
Bavarian State Institute for Viticulture and Horticulture, Bee Research Center, An der Steige 15, D-97206 Veitshöchheim, Germany. ina.heidinger@gmx.de.
3
LLH, Bee Institute, Erlenstrasse 9, D-35274 Kirchhain, Germany. marina.meixner@llh.hessen.de.
4
Bavarian State Institute for Viticulture and Horticulture, Bee Research Center, An der Steige 15, D-97206 Veitshöchheim, Germany. stefan.berg@lwg.bayern.de.
5
LLH, Bee Institute, Erlenstrasse 9, D-35274 Kirchhain, Germany. ralph.buechler@llh.hessen.de.

Abstract

We used radio-frequency identification (RFID) to record the duration and frequency of nuptial flights of honey bee queens (Apis mellifera carnica) at two mainland mating apiaries. We investigated the effect of a number of factors on flight duration and frequency: mating apiary, number of drone colonies, queen's age and temperature. We found significant differences between the two locations concerning the number of flights on the first three days. We also observed an effect of the ambient temperature, with queens flying less often but longer at high temperatures compared to lower temperatures. Increasing the number of drone colonies from 33 to 80 colonies had no effect on the duration or on the frequency of nuptial flights. Since our results agree well with the results of previous studies, we suggest RFID as an appropriate tool to investigate the mating behavior of honey bee queens.

KEYWORDS:

Apis mellifera; honey bee queen; mating behavior; nuptial flight; radio-frequency identification (RFID)

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