The Polyandrous Queen Honey Bee: Biology and Apiculture

The Queen Honey Bee Duties in the Composite Colonies

Author(s): Lovleen Marwaha

Pp: 35-56 (22)

DOI: 10.2174/9789815079128112010003

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


 In a honey bee colony, a polyandrous queen bee performs two important duties predominantly. The first is reproduction, for modulation of colonial strength; and the second is the secretion of queen pheromones for regulation of social organization, developmental specification, colonial productivity control, retinue behaviour induction, worker ovarian suppression, foraging control, swarming reduction, other queen rearing inhibition, etc. In the female caste of honey bees, reproduction is uni-righted by a polyandrous queen, which mates preferably with multiple drones of other colonies during a nuptial flight in a Drone Congregation Area(DCA) and thereafter lays fertilised or unfertilized eggs depending on in-situ and ex-situ hive ambience, whereas worker honey bees perform the remaining tasks, including hive construction, brood rearing, foraging for food and nectar, honey production, protection and general organisation of the colony, pollen grain storage, water collection for the colony, ventilation in the hive, and the removal of carcases. In other words, worker bees perform all tasks except for reproduction and colony dominance. The specific duties assigned reflect the rectitudinous behaviour of the honey bee colony. Additionally, the specific division of labour enhances the competence of all honey bee castes. The Queen's honey bee is considerably fertile due to differential genomic expression, proteomics, and developmental specification. Further, her reproducibility is influenced by different biotic and abiotic factors prevailing within and outside the hive. In this chapter, a brief description of two predominant duties of the queen, including reproduction and pheromonal secretion, is highlighted. Subsequent chapters provide elaborative views of reproduction and pheromones. 

Keywords: Division of labour, Pheromonal secretion, Queen honey bee, Reproduction.

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