Mating biology of honey bees (Apis mellifera)

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Authors or Editors:
Gudrun Koeniger, Nikolaus Koeniger, Jamie Ellis and Lawrence Connor
Wicwas Press

Complex and deadly acrobatics mark the climax of a successful drone’s life. Though the honey bee is one of the most broadly and extensively researched insect, the function of the drone and the activities beyond the hive have long eluded all but the most determined of researchers. Gudrun and Nikolaus are two such determined researchers who have, in these pages, built upon the most vital works of their predecessors and contemporaries in the context of their own studies. In a career spanning five decades, the Drs. Koeniger are continuing to push the understanding of honey bee behavior outside the hive in this new millennium.

Mating biology of honey bees (Apis mellifera) represents the culmination of human understanding of the honey bee. With the assistance of Dr. Jamie D. Ellis, Associate Professor of Entomology and honey bee researcher with the University of Florida, and Dr. Lawrence John Connor, prolific writer, researcher, publisher and former commercial bee breeder, Gudrun and Nikolaus reveal to the reader their discoveries made in isolated regions in the alps, Drone Congregation Areas that are decades old, and across extensive plains to establish, with precise and painstaking practices, the biologic preferences and motivations of the honey bee and the extent of our ability to influence them for their benefit and our own. With nods and respect to the other vanguards of bee research, the text of this book will challenge what you think you know about these industrious insects and put you on the razor’s edge of honey bee research.

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Science Update from the Authors! (published December 31, 2016)

We wrote in the book:
4.1.1 Does royal jelly contain a queen determinant?
For decades, many scientists have tried to isolate a single substance in royal jelly responsible for causing female larvae to become queens rather than workers (Rembold 1976). This was done in vain. Afterwards, there was a long period when many believed that there was no special substance that acted as a queen determinant. Rather, a well-balanced larval food with specific proportions of different components was believed to switch the development of the 2-day-old larva from that of a worker to that of a queen. Research from Japan showed that there is a special protein in royal jelly, named “Royal Actin” that seems to play an important role for queen determination (Kamakura 2011). “Royal Actin seems to affect the growth of ovaries and causes them to develop several hundred ovarioles. The molecular mode of caste determination is still under discussion (Leimar et al. 2012, Buttstedt et al. 2013).
We now suggest the following abstract
Royalactin is not a royal making of a queen: new results add to the long discussed causes for queen determination.
The results of M. Kamakura, which we cited in the book “Mating biology of honeybees (Apis mellifera)” 2014 (page 37), were contradicted with new experiments performed by a research group at the University in Halle which were published in Nature 2016.
The research group’s experiments show that neither monomeric MRJP1 nor MRJP2, 3 or 5 are essential for queen determination. This is a clear support of the long known and often tested hypotheses that queen determination is primarily driven by the amount of food ingested, thereby providing a higher amount of well-balanced nutrients for the developing queen larvae and not by a single determining compound.
reference: Buttstedt A, Ihling CH, Pietzsch M, Moritz RFA (2016): Royalactin is not a royal making of a queen. Nature    537 (7621): E10-E12. Link.