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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
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    Default How many mating flights: one or several?

    A help is welcome. The question is simple: I find a technique that can help me maintaining VSH traits.
    The technique as you can see presupposes one mating flight (1). Some experts state that the queen under natural conditions only makes one flight (2) and (3), yet others report several mating flights (4).

    (1) A novel system for the control of natural mating of A. mellifera queens has been developed by Mr Jo Horner, an Australian queen breeder in Rylstone, New South Wales. The system allows up to 240 queens to be control mated on a single day, which is far greater than can be achieved by instrumental insemination. Furthermore, the system does not require geographical isolation. Instead, Horner's system controls natural mating of queens and drones by manipulating the time that they undertake mating flights. Under natural mating, drones of A. mellifera start their mating flights shortly after noon and continue until 1630 or 1700 h (Koeniger et al. 2005). Males gather at drone congregation areas—specific areas in the landscape (Loper et al. 1987, Pechhacker 1994) that attract hundreds or thousands of unrelated drones (Baudry et al. 1998). Virgin queens fly to a congregation area where they mate before returning to their original colony. In http://jhered.oxfordjournals.org/content/101/3/334.full

    (2) As far as known, Apis species mate at DCAs (review Koeniger and Koeniger, 2000). Male aggregations seem to facilitate and ensure a rapid mating of queens with many drones during one successful mating flight of 15 to 30 min (A. koschevnikovi: Koeniger et al., 1994a; A. dorsata: Tan et al., 1999; A. cerana: Woyke, 1975; Punchihewa et al., 1990; A. mellifera: Woyke, 1960). in http://www.apidologie.org/index.php option=com_article&access=standard&Itemid=129&url=/articles/apido/pdf/2005/02/M4070.pdf

    (3) "Virgin queens mate early in their lives and only attend one mating flight. After several matings during this flight, a queen stores up to 100 million sperm within her oviducts. However, only five to six million are stored within the queen’s spermatheca. The queen uses only a few of these sperm at a time in order to fertilize eggs throughout her life." In http://www.orkin.com/stinging-pests/...ey-bee-mating/


    (4) "A honey bee colony consists of a single queen and several thousand sterile worker bees. Throughout most of her life, the queen’s job is to lay eggs. However, early in a queen’s life, she makes several mating flights. On these flights, she mates — in midair — with anywhere from one to more than 40 drones. The average number of drones with which a queen mates is 12. The queen stores the semen from her mating flights for the remainder of her life, two-to-three years for a long-lived queen." In http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/agcomm/maga.../n_mating.html

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    1,084

    Default Re: How many mating flights: one or several?

    As far as the number of mating flights, many studies have come up with different conclusions. Generally, beginning at 5 days after emergence and weather permitting, the queen begins taking "orienting flights". She may go again on the next day or the seventh day after emergence, or she may go on her mating flight(s), usually one or two brief flights from 10 to 40+ minutes, sometimes going again the following day for yet another mating flight or flights. About 2 or 3 days after mating, she begins laying eggs. I'm pretty sure that some queens find mating very enjoyable, go out on 3, 4, or maybe even more mating flights, while others go on just one flight. Weather or other factors can delay mating for as long as a month.

    Egg laying patterns can be somewhat unstable at first, and it may take up to a month for the pattern to get consistent.

    It is a fun group project for a bee club to go out and identify DCA's in your county. Everyone goes as teams of 2 or 3 in a vehicle with fishing rods and enough helium balloons to fly a virgin queen in a queen cage, and watches for "drone comets" to appear. You're mostly "fishing" altitudes from 20 to 150 feet elevation. Binoculars help, I prefer 7 x 50's, but any clear-viewing pair might help. The rule is that the person with the worst vision operates the fishing rod, the one with the best vision looks with unaided eye or polarized sunglasses, the other uses the binoculars. Plot you finds on a map. Areas with no DCA's for many miles make good isolation yards for breeding specialists, areas with many DCA's make good community mating yards for beekeepers with small numbers of colonies.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 12-11-2014 at 12:49 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Sacramento,California,USA
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    3,870

    Default Re: How many mating flights: one or several?

    I don't know how many, but I know it's more than once, or at least they fly out more than on just one day. There has been more than one occasion when I've known a queen to be out and about even after she had started laying eggs, I suspect it was continued mating flights. I now won't move a mating nuc until a month, or close to it, has gone by since I've seen eggs.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    669

    Default Re: How many mating flights: one or several?

    My brother has three new Nucs. We checked them for a lying queen and found a few palm size patches of young brood and eggs in each Nuc, but found no queens in any of them. (Now I'm no novice with finding queens, especially in a Nuc.)

    I went back in about an hour later and found the new queen straight away. No missing her, she is quite large. I've had other experiences as well that suggest the queens have gone out on mating flights after starting to lay.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Trousdale County, Tennessee
    Posts
    59

    Default Re: How many mating flights: one or several?

    Eduardo, you may not get the answer to your original question, but it's certainly brought up a new concept that I'd never heard. That is queens continuing flights after mating. Not criticizing or validating, I'd just never heard of that before. Has made for some good reading research for the winter to see if I can find anything else on this.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    2,064

    Default Re: How many mating flights: one or several?

    First of all I don't know all the answer on mating flight. It seems from my experience
    that the virgin queen only fly out to mate in a confined 2 week window time frame at perfect weather.
    From reading, if she misses/passed those time frame she will became a drone layer (say wet weather's influence.)

    From my experience on the virgin only, she will go out to mate until the desired sperm level is met within those 2 weeks. She will do it in 3 days to
    get whatever she needs. This was the queen that I keep track of from the day she emerged from her cell. Within that 3 days she
    will go out on her mating flight everyday on perfect weather. When her abdomen became fat laden with sperm then she no longer can fly or want to fly
    anymore. Then she will wait few more days inside the nest for her time to lay eggs. So my conclusion is that she will do multiple mating flight thru out these 2 weeks until
    either time is up or keep whatever she had collected from her many mating flight until the time she lay.
    I luv bee source!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    664

    Default Re: How many mating flights: one or several?

    The queen only mates once in her life but she may make several flights. the males organs are ripped out during the mating process. Usually the little pieces fall out during flight, but sometimes it gets stuck and the queen has to go back to the hive and get cleaned up before she can continue. She will mate with between 8 and 20 drones during the whole process.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Portugal
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    402

    Default Re: How many mating flights: one or several?

    Quote Originally Posted by dsegrest View Post
    The queen only mates once in her life
    If I was not very clear in my question , I apologize .
    My question is whether the queen leaves only one day to do the mating or leaves several days more or less consecutive to mate. Thank you for your attention!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    2,064

    Default Re: How many mating flights: one or several?

    Usually it depends on the weather condition and the number of successful flights when she went out.
    If the weather is bad then she will go out several times. And when the thingy broke off on her
    first flight then she has to come back to clean out and try again. So the answer is most likely on several
    occasion of mating flights.
    I luv bee source!

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