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How Do Bees Mate? A Dangerous Dance

16 November 2020
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Differences in bees reproduction across the species

Just like many other insects, there are many different kinds of species of bee and their reproductive processes vary wildly across both biology and practices. So to truly answer the question 'How Do Bees Mate?' we must first look at the differences across species:

The short answer

Honeybee colonies reproduce when a mature queen leaves the nest to find male drone bees from other hives. Male drones mate with the queen using their endophallus, this process will occur up to 20 times until the queen's oviducts are full of semen and any excess is stored in the spermathecal for later.

Honeybee reproduction

A female queen will leave the nest in search of male drones from other hives to mate with. Once the process is complete she will return to the hive and begin to produce young.

Bumblebee reproduction

Male bumblebees will forcefully knock a female queen bumblebee from mid-flight to the ground to mount her thorax and mate with her.

Carpenter bees reproduction

Carpenter bee reproduction starts when a group of male and female carpenter bees begin a 'bobbing' dance. This will normally contain approximately 12 males and 4 females.

Once the dance is complete the females will take to the air with the males following closely behind. The males will attempt to mate with the females with the final goal being to position their abdomen directly above that of the females by climbing onto her back mid-flight.

Learn more about the Carpenter bee lifecycle.

Burrowing bee reproduction

Male bees will wait in large numbers at the entrance to the female nest. When the female burrowing bee emerges the males will fight to the death for the opportunity to mate with the female. Male burrowing bees outnumber female bees 100/1 so the battle that ensues can lead to huge losses. The video below shows the fascinating but deadly mating ritual...

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