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Effects of hive spacing, entrance orientation, and worker activity on nest relocation by honey bee queens
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 05:12 authored by William O H Hughes, Juan Antonio Perez-Sato, Margaret J Couvillon, Francis Ratnieks
The mating flight is the riskiest period in the life of a honeybee queen. A major cause of queen mortality in apiaries may be the drifting of queens to foreign colonies. We investigated the effects of distance between hives, entrance orientation and worker activity on queen drifting. Only 4% of queens drifted in our experiments, all during their maiden orientation flight and all to the closest neighbouring hive. Neither drifting nor the length of time it took queens to relocate their hive was significantly affected by either entrance orientation or distance between hive stands (2 m or 5 m). However, queens took significantly longer to identify their hive and were more likely to drift when the number of workers at the entrance was lower than that at the neighbouring hive. Our results show that drifting can be low even when hives are placed in pairs with only 2 m between pairs, and that worker activity has an important role in guiding returning queens on their maiden orientation flight.
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- Evolution, Behaviour and Environment Publications
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