Why do Promiscuous Queens Produce Healthier Honey Bee Colonies?

(Wellesley College) May 12, 2012

Study reveals surprising cluesHoney bee ecologist Dr. Heather Mattila, sheds light on the link between genetic diversity and healthier bee colonies.

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- A new study out of Wellesley College sheds light on the link between genetic diversity and healthier bee colonies—by revealing the makeup of the microscopic life found inside the guts, on the bodies, and in the food of these insects. For the first time, scientists discovered that genetically diverse populations of worker bees, a result of the highly promiscuous mating behavior of queens, benefited from diverse symbiotic microbial communities, reduced loads of bacteria from pathogenic groups, and more bacteria related to helpful probiotic species—famous for their use by humans to ferment food. The novel study provides the first major insight into how honey bee colony health could be improved by diversity.

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