Neotropical African honeybees (Apis mellifera scutellata), in the process of spreading throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, hybridize with and mostly replace European honeybees (primarily Apis mellifera mellifera and Apis mellifera ligustica). To help understand this process, we studied the effect of lineage (African, European, or hybrid) on the flight physiology of honeybee reproductives. Flight metabolic rates were higher in queens and drones of African lineage than in European or hybrid bees, as has been previously found for foraging workers. These differences were associated with higher thorax/body mass ratios and higher thorax-specific metabolic rates in African lineage bees. Queens were reared in common colonies, so these metabolic and morphological differences are likely to be genetic in origin. African drones had higher wing beat frequencies and thorax temperatures than European or hybrid bees. Hybrids were intermediate for many parameters, but hybrid queen mass-specific flight metabolic rates were low relative to Africans and were nonlinearly affected by the proportion of African lineage, consistent with some negative heterosis for this trait.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology