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Mating Flight

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Kevi 

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When a virgin queen has her mating flight, how many bees accompany her? Is it 20 or so drones or hundreds or what? Is it only drones that accompany the virgin queen? Can't find this info in the books that I have.
 

Heather 

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It is thought that the drones are already gathered in the area and a few workers accompany her there and back.
 

Midland Beek 

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A virgin queen can quickly attract a sizable following of drones. Some speak of seeing mating flights in or near their apiaries where a comet like gathering of a couple of hundred or so of drones dart around forming shapes not unlike a mass of starlings.
 
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Hi Kevi
I was reading an article on this a few weeks ago. The author was saying that often a large number of workers accommpanied the queen on the initial part of the mating flight. This was for several reasons. The main two were:
1) to guide the queen in the correct direction. She may not have been far on orientation flights.
2) to prevent her mating with drones from her own hive. These would be her half brothers and would not be good from a natural selection point of view.
 

Firegazer 

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Tautz also suggests that there might be a big cloud of workers outside the hive to 'give cover' for the exit and arrival of the queen and her close-in gang. These could be to make it harder for swifts, etc to grab her as there are too many targets (shoal defence).

FG
 

darrenperrett 

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I think i`ve got a Q out on a mating flight at the moment. It sounded like a swarm from about 100 yards away.
There must be a couple of thousand bees just flying around within 10ft of the hive.

Darren.
 

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