The effects of mating and instrumental insemination on queen honey bee flight behaviour and gene expression

Insect Mol Biol. 2010 Apr;19(2):153-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2583.2009.00965.x. Epub 2009 Dec 11.


Mating is fundamental to most organisms, although the physiological and transcriptional changes associated with this process have been largely characterized only in Drosophila melanogaster. In this study, we use honey bees as a model system because their queens undergo massive and permanent physiological and behavioural changes following mating. Previous studies have identified changes associated with the transition from a virgin queen to a fully mated, egg-laying queen. Here, we further uncouple the mating process to examine the effects of natural mating vs. instrumental insemination and saline vs. semen insemination. We observed effects on flight behaviour, vitellogenin expression and significant overlap in transcriptional profiles between our study and analogous studies in D. melanogaster, suggesting that some post-mating mechanisms are conserved across insect orders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees / genetics*
  • Bees / physiology*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Female
  • Flight, Animal / physiology
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genes, Insect
  • Insemination / genetics
  • Insemination, Artificial
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Sexual Maturation / genetics
  • Species Specificity
  • Vitellogenins / genetics


  • Vitellogenins