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Thread: Queen pheremones and DCAs

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    Senior Member Mellifera Crofter's Avatar
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    Default Queen pheremones and DCAs

    I'm studying, and started to wonder about mating flights and queen pheremones.

    From reading (on here mostly), I understand that a virgin queen flies further afield from her home turf than drones do in order to find drones not related to her. So, she is as much on the lookout for drones, as they are for her, doesn't that mean that she would have been helped in that task if the drones also produced pheremones to attract her? How does she find the DCAs? Does she just fly out in the hope she'll get within 100m of a DCA for the drones to become aware of her?

    From reading Dave Goulson, it seems to me bumble bees do the same. The drones wait for a virgin queen to fly by.

    I know, I've never read about any drone pheremones, but thinking about it now, the sky, and finding each other, seems far more of a problem to me.

    Kitta

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    Senior Member fatshark's Avatar
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    Presumably the queen has evolved to find the DCA's using similar geographic clues to those used by the drones, she just goes further afield. A bit like a single man or woman going to a pub/club/tea dance/rave (delete as appropriate) in the local town as opposed to one more distant. They - males and females, both human and insect - know there will be like-minded individuals gathering in the same place.
    The pheromones idea is an interesting one though. This might mean that queens fly upwind to find DCAs. She'd have to work harder to get there but, assuming she used no more than half her strength doing so, would be pretty certain of getting back.

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    Senior Member Mellifera Crofter's Avatar
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    Thanks Fatshark. It seems obvious now - of course she'll know the clues on how to get there, and isn't as mystified about finding DCA locations as we are.
    Kitta

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    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    Is there research to back up where queens fly to?
    Those RFID markers used in some of the pesticide studies would be a good way to track virgin queens.
    There must be some studies which have tracked queens to DCAs but I am not aware of any.
    I remember Robert Paxton commenting that extraneous DNA turned up at one of the Baltic island mating stations so either queens were flying onshore or drones were doing the reverse. The island was 2 miles off shore

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    Hi Kitta
    http://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to...ms/carrot-fly/
    carrot fly sniff out carrots a mile away and they are rubbish flyers

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    Administrator gavin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon View Post
    Is there research to back up where queens fly to?
    Those RFID markers used in some of the pesticide studies would be a good way to track virgin queens.
    There must be some studies which have tracked queens to DCAs but I am not aware of any.
    I remember Robert Paxton commenting that extraneous DNA turned up at one of the Baltic island mating stations so either queens were flying onshore or drones were doing the reverse. The island was 2 miles off shore
    I wrote to Gudrun Koeniger on this last year and she said that queens preferentially flew (in an experiment in the Alps) downhill, to a dip in the horizon, just as drones did. That isn't from direct observation but inference from mated queens.

    In their excellent book on mating biology they describe work with Cordovan bees which shows that queens were tending to fly further than drones to mate. Cordovan is a recessive trait so virgin and drone have to carry it to make Cordovan workers. They also said that the variability of flight distance was greater for queens.

    I asked her the question on whether queens and drone may fly upwind in a breeze, as I believe workers tend to do when aiming for distant forage. She thought not.

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    Senior Member fatshark's Avatar
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    RFID wouldn't do it Jon ... too short range if I remember correctly. That's the technology they use to mark and count workers going to/from the hive entrance.
    Harmonic radar is the geekery to track over long distances, though I seem to remember it still has range less than the mating flights of queens ... and needs an unobstructed and flat area to work well.

    Here it's used for bumble bees and the original honey bee paper (which wasn't a paper, but a short letter to the editor of Nature) is be partially (?) viewed here .

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    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    Hadn't realised that RFID was only really used for counting out and counting in at the hive entrance.
    This paper by Schneider et al was the one I was thinking of.

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    Senior Member Greengage's Avatar
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    Glad you started this thread i have noted 14 Apiaries on my google map and drew a circle 3 miles radius from the hives but i think the distance is too great for them to make it back so have shortened it to 1.5 miles and looked to where they overlap, maybe iam way off but will be interested to see where this thread goes, Ill read the articles later.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mellifera Crofter View Post

    From reading Dave Goulson, it seems to me bumble bees do the same. The drones wait for a virgin queen to fly by.
    It depends very much on which species of bumblebee. In some species the males fly regular routes and "scent" mark specific areas at the ends of their routes, which virgin queens find and wait there for the male to return. Some males ambush females as they leave the nest....it's not straightforward. Bit like Goulson

    One thing I found interesting about DCA's is they can't seem to find them in flat country. Koeniger's mention this in their book, whereby tethered queens/artificial queens ( experiments in East Anglia and some German marshes) attract drones almost randomly as they "walk their queens". Suggesting that with no obvious depletions in the horizon the drones are more randomly spread.

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