Standard methods for direct observation of honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) nuptial flights
Honey bees (Apis mellifera) have a peculiar and complex reproductive biology, with queens being polyandrous and mating with several drones during one or more mating (nuptial) flights in so-called drone congregation areas. Observing the virgin queens’ and drones’ flight behaviour provides data to understand and interpret a portion of the honey bees’ complex reproductive process. Observing the behaviour of the virgin queens on the hive entrance also serves to estimate the distance from the mating place or potential drone congregation areas (DCAs) as well as to detect the presence of airborne drones in the area.
In this paper, we provide a detailed description of the methodology used for observing queens’ and drones’ flights during the period of expected mating. In addition, we provide information about required equipment, tools as well as step by step description of the observation and recordkeeping process.