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Sperm numbers in drone honeybees (Apis mellifera) depend on body size

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2003051
  • [Sdv:Ba:Zi] Life Sciences/Animal Biology/Invertebrate Zoology
  • [Sdv:Ba:Zi] Sciences Du Vivant/Biologie Animale/Zoologie Des Invertébrés
  • [Sdv:Bid] Life Sciences/Biodiversity
  • [Sdv:Bid] Sciences Du Vivant/Biodiversité
  • [Sdv:Ee] Life Sciences/Ecology
  • Environment
  • [Sdv:Ee] Sciences Du Vivant/Ecologie
  • Environnement
  • [Sdv:Sa:Spa] Life Sciences/Agricultural Sciences/Animal Production Studies
  • [Sdv:Sa:Spa] Sciences Du Vivant/Sciences Agricoles/Science Des Productions Animales
  • Apis Mellifera
  • Spermatozoa
  • Male Size
  • Small Drone
  • Large Drone
  • Reproductive Success


The effect of drone honeybee's body size on semen production was evaluated. In the same colonies, drones were either reared in drone cells (large drones) or in worker cells (small drones). Wing lengths (size indicator) and sperm numbers of small and large drones were compared. Small drones (~13% reduced wing size) produce significantly fewer spermatozoa ($7.5 \pm 0.5$ million) than normally sized drones ($11.9 \pm 1.0$ million spermatozoa). There is a significant positive correlation between sperm number and wing size within the small drones and in both groups combined. In the large group alone no correlation was found. The rearing investment per spermatozoon is lower for small than for normally sized drones because small drones produce more spermatozoa in relation to their body weight. Since colonies usually produce large drones, the enhanced investment must be outweighed by a mating advantage of large drones.

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