MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: Why do male bees die after mating?

Date: Wed Mar 29 06:49:45 2000
Posted By: Dawn Nelson, Faculty, Biology, Environmental Studies, Warren Wilson College
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 954297113.Zo

Good question! I don't know for sure (my sources aren't specific, and I'm 
not an expert on bees), but I have a hunch that they simply starve to 
death. I know that in honeybee hives, the males are quite useles when it 
comes to taking care of themselves - they basically mooch off the workers. 
Any males left in the hive when a queen leaves are driven out, and they 
simply don't have the survival skills to last long. So, probably those that 
mate with a queen face the same problem - the hive won't let them back in, 
and they starve. This situation is fine with the queen, since she can store 
enough sperm from a male to last the rest of her life. In another social 
species, termites, the queen doesn't store sperm in the same way, and so 
her king stays in the colony, to remate from time to time. Even in this 
case, he doesn't fend for himself, but is completely taken care of by the 
workers - just as the queen herself is.

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