Gyne and Drone Production in Bombus Atratus (Hymenoptera: Apidae)

Open access


For over a decade, our research group has studied the biology of the native bumblebee, Bombus atratus, to investigate the feasibility of using it to pollinate crops such as tomato, strawberry, blackberry and peppers. Traditionally, captive breeding has depended on the use of captured wild queens to initiate the colonies. The goal of the current work is to investigate conditions required to produce new queens and drones in captivity. In this study, 31 colonies were evaluated under either greenhouse or open field conditions over a 15 month period. A total of 1492 drones (D) and 737 gynes (G, i.e., virgin queens) were produced by all colonies, with 16 colonies producing both drones and gynes (D&G), 11 producing only drones (D) and 4 producing neither. Some of the D&G colonies had more than one sexual phase, but no colonies produced exclusively gynes. More drones and fewer gynes were produced per colony under greenhouse conditions with the highest number of drones produced by D&G colonies. The numbers of immature stages per cell declined in colonies as increasingly more resources were allocated to the production of gynes and the maintenance of increased nest temperature.

Abrahamovich, A., & Díaz, N. (2002). Bumble bees of the Neotropical Region (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Biota Colombiana, 3(2), 199-214.

Aldana, J., Cure, J.R., Almanza, M.T., Vecil, D., & Rodriguez, D. (2007). Efecto de Bombus atratus (Hymenoptera: Apidae) sobre la productividad de tomate (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) bajo invernadero en la Sabana de Bogotá, Colombia. Agronomía Colombiana, 25(1), 62-72.

Almanza, M.T. (2007). Management of Bombus atratus bumblebees to pollinate Lulo (Solanum quitoense L ), a native fruit from the Andes of Colombia. Doctoral Thesis. Germany: Cuvillier Verlag Gottingen.

Baer, B. (2003). Bumblebees as model organisms to study male sexual selection in social insects. Behavior Ecology Sociobiology, 54(1), 521-533. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-003-0673-5

Barrow, D., & Pickard, R. (1985). Larval temperature in brood clumps of Bombus pascuorum (Scop.). Journal of Apicultural Research, 24(2), 69-75. DOI: 10.1080/00218839.1985.11100651

Beekman, M., & Van Stratum, P. (1998). Bumblebee sex ratios: why do bumblebees produce so many males?, The royal society publishing - Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 265(1),1535-1543. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.1998.0469

Bourke, A. (1997). Sex ratios in Bumble bees. The royal society publishing - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 352(1): 1921-1933. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.1997.0179

Brian, A.D. (1951). The pollen collected by Bumblebee. The Journal of animal ecology, 20(2), 191-194. DOI: 10.2307/1538

Brian, A.D. (1952). Division of labor and foraging in Bombus agrorum Fabricius. The Journal of Animal Ecology, 21(1), 223-240. DOI: 10.2307/1959

Camelo, L., Diaz, L., Cure, J.R., & Almanza, M.T. (2004). Morfología floral de la uchuva y comportamiento de visitas de la especie de abejorros Bombus atratus (Hymenoptera: Apidae) bajo invernadero. En resúmenes del XXXI Congreso de la Sociedad Colombiana de Entomología SOCOLEN (p.86). Bogotá - Colombia.

Cameron, S., & Jost, M. (1998). Mediators of domi nance and reproductive success among queens in the cyclically polygynous Neotropical bumble bee Bombus atratus Franklin. Insectes Sociaux, 45(1), 135-149. DOI: 10.1007/s000400050075

Cnaani, J., Schmid-Hempel, R., & Schmidt, J.O. (2002). Colony development, larval development and worker reproduction in Bombus impatiens Cresson. Insectes Sociaux. 49(1),164-170. DOI: 10.1007/s00040-002-8297-8

Cruz, P., Almanza, M.T., & Cure, J.R. (2007). Logros y perspectivas de la cría de abejorros del genero Bombus en Colombia. Revista Facultad de Ciencias Básicas, 3(1), 49-60.

Duchateau, M., & Velthuis, H. (1988). Development and reproductive strategies in Bombus terrestris colonies. Behaviour, 107(3), 186-207.

Duchateau, M., Velthuis, H., & Boomsma, J. (2004). Sex ratio variation in the bumblebee Bombus terrestris. Behavioral Ecology, 15(1), 71-82. DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arg087

Everitt, B. (2005). An R and S-PLUS® Companion to Multivariate Analysis. London, UK: Springer.

Fisher, R.M. (1987). Queen-worker conflict and social parasitism in bumble bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Animal Behaviour, 35(1), 1026-1036. DOI: 10.1016/S0003-3472(87)80159-8

Fisher, R.M. (1992). Sex ratios in bumble bee social parasites: support for queen-worker conflict theory? (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Sociobiology, 20(1), 205-217.

Garófalo, C.A. (1974). Aspectos Evolutivos da Biologia da Reprodução em Abelhas (Hymenoptera, Apidae). Dissertação de Mestrado. Ribeirão Preto, Brasil: Universidade de São Paulo.

Garófalo, C.A., Zucchi, R., & Muccillo, G. (1986). Reproductive studies of a neotropical bumblebee, Bombus atratus (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Revista Brasileira de Genetica, 9(2), 231-243.

González, V., Mejía, A., & Rasmussen, C. (2004). Ecology and Nesting Behavior of Bombus atratus Franklin in Andean Highlands (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Journal of Hymenoptera Research, 13(2), 234-242.

Griffin R.P., Macfarlane R.P., Ende H J., & Van Den. (1991). Rearing and domestication of long tongued bumble bees in New Zealand. Acta Horticulturae, 288(1), 149-153. DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1991.288.19

Gutierrez, A.P. (1992). The physiological basis of ratio dependent theory. Ecology, 73(1), 1529-1553. DOI: 10.2307/1940008

Gutierrez, A.P., Daxl R., Leon Quant, G., & Falcon, L. (1981). Estimating economic thresholds for bollworm, Heliothis zea Boddie, and boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis Boh., damage in Nicaraguan cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L. Environmental Entomology, 10(1), 872-879. DOI: 10.1093/ee/10.6.872

Hadfield, J. (2010). MCMC methods for multi-response generalized linear mixed models: the MCMCglmm R package. Journal of Statistical Software, 33(2),1-22.

Hanley, M., Franco, M., Pichon, S., Darvill, B., & Goulson, D. (2008). Breeding system, pollinator choice and variation in pollen quality in British herbaceous plants. Functional Ecology, 22(1), 592-598. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2435.2008.01415.x

Hasselrot, T.B. (1960). Studies on Swedish bumblebees (genus Bombus Ltr.): Their domestication and biology. Opuscula Entomologia Supplementum, 17(1), 1-192.

Heinrich, B. (2004). Bumblebee Economics. Massachusetts, USA: Harvard University Press.

Hennig, E., & Ghazoul, J. (2011). Plant-pollinator interactions within the urban environment. Perspectives in plant ecology, evolution and systematic, 13(1), 137-150. DOI: 10.1016/j.ppees.2011.03.003

Hoffmann, R.E., Torres, A., & Neumann, P. (2004). A scientific note on the nest and colony development of the Neotropical bumble bee Bombus (Robustobombus) melaleucus. Apidologie, 35(1), 449-450. DOI: 10.1051/apido:2004011

Leonhardt, S., & Blüthgen, N. (2012). The same, but different: pollen foraging in honeybee and bumblebee colonies. Apidologie, 43(1), 449-464. DOI: 10.1007/s13592-011-0112-y

Liévano, A., Ospina, R., & Nates, G. (1994). Contribución al crecimiento de la taxonomía del género Bombus en Colombia (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Trianea Acta Científica Tecnológica del INDERENA, 5(1), 221-233.

Lobatón, J.D., Cure, J.R., & Almanza, M.T. (2012). Fenología y oferta floral de trébol rojo Trifolium pratense (Fabales: Fabaceae) en praderas de kikuyo Penissetum clandestinum (Poales: Poaceae), como fuente de alimento para Bombus atratus (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) en Cajicá, Colombia. Revista Facultad de Ciencias Básicas, 8(1), 18-27.

Maccullagh, P., & Nelder, J.A. (1989). Generalized Linear Models. Second Edition. London: CRC press .

Michener, C.D. (1974). The social Behavior of the bees. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Michener, C.D. (2007). The bees of the world. Second Edition. Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Morse, D. (1982). Behavior and Ecology of Bumble bees. In Social Insects, Vol 3. (pp. 246-312). New York: Academic Press.

Onset Computer Corporation (2013) Indoor Use Data loggers. HOBO U12-012. Retrieved April 7, 2016,

Owen, R.E., & Plowright, R.C. (1982). Worker-queen conflict and male parentage in bumble bees. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 11(1), 91-99. DOI: 10.1007/BF00300097

Owen, R.E., Rodd, F.H., & Plowright, R.C. (1980). Sex ratios in bumble bee colonies: complications due to orphaning?. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 7(1), 287-291. DOI: 10.1007/BF00300669

Pacateque, J., Cruz, P., Aguilar, M.L., & Cure, J.R. (2012). Efecto de la alimentación vía bolsillo en etapas tempranas de desarrollo de Bombus atratus (Hymenoptera, Apidae). Revista Colombiana de Entomología, 38(1), 343-346.

Pérez, M.M. (2014). Evaluación del abejorro Bombus atratus Franklin (Hymenoptera: Apidae) como polinizador en fresa (Fragaria x ananassa Duch. ‘Camarosa’) bajo invernadero. Tesis de Maestría en Ciencias Agrarias. Bogotá, Colombia: Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

Pomeroy, N., & Plowright, R.C. (1982). The relation between worker numbers and the production of males and Queens in the bumble bee Bombus perplexus. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 60(1), 954-957. DOI: 10.1139/z82-131

Riaño, D., Veloza, M., Cure, J.R., & Almanza, M.T. (2014). Desarrollo de dos colonias de Bombus atratus (Hymenoptera: Apidae) mantenidas bajo dos modos de alimentación. Revista Facultad de Ciencias Básicas, 10(2), 132-141.

Riaño, D., Pacateque, J., Cure, J.R, & Rodriguez, D. (2015). Pollination behavior and efficiency of Bombus atratus Franklin in sweet peppers (Capsicum annum L.) grown in a greenhouse. Revista Colombiana de Ciencias Hortícolas, 9(2), 259-267. DOI:

Richards, K.W. (1973). Biology of Bombus polaris Curtis and B. hyperboreus Schonherr at Lake Hazen, Northwest Territories (Hymenoptera: Bombini). Quaestiones Entomologicae, 9(1), 115-157.

Romero, E., Pinilla, C., Cure, J.R., Riaño, D., Padilla, S., Aguilar, M.L. (2013). Desarrollo de un escenario de campo para el estudio de especies nativas de abejorros (Bombus spp.) de los Andes Colombianos (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Revista Facultad de Ciencias Básicas, 9(2), 200-211.

Röseler, P.F., & Van Honk, C.G. (1990) Castes and reproduction in bumblebees. In Engels, W (Ed). Social insects: an evolutionary approach to castes and reproduction. (pp. 147-166). Berlin, Germany: Springer;.

Rubio, D. (2012). Disponibilidad, uso y preferencia por lo recursos florales en una comunidad de abejorros (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Bombus) en el páramo de Chingaza. Tesis de Maestría de la Facultad de Ciencias. Bogotá, Colombia: Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

Sakagami, S. (1976). Specific Differences in the Bionomic Characters of Bumblebees: A comparative Review. Journal of the Faculty of Science Hokkaido University Series VI. Zoology, 20(3), 390-447.

Sakagami, S.F., Akahira, Y., & Zucchi, R. (1967). Nest architecture and brood development in a neotropical bumblebee, Bombus atratus. Insectes Sociaux, 14(1), 389-413. DOI: 10.1007/BF02223686

Silva-Matos, E.V., & Garófalo, C.A. (1995). Observations on the development of queenless colonies of Bombus atratus (Hymenoptera, Apidae). Journal of Apicultural Research, 34(1), 177-185. DOI: 10.1080/00218839.1995.11100903

Silva-Matos, E.V., & Garófalo C.A. (2000). Worker life tables, survivorship, and longevity in colonies of Bombus (Fervidobombus) atratus (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Revista de Biología Tropical, 48(2/3), 657-664.

Sladen, F.W. (1912). The humble bee, its life-history and how to domesticate it. London: Macmillan and Company.

Velthuis, H., & Van Doorn, A. (2006). A century of advances in bumblebee domestication and the economic and environmental aspects of its commercialization for pollination. Apidologie, 37(1), 421-451. DOI: 10.1051/apido:2006019

Williams, P.H. (1998). An annotated checklist of bumble bees with an analysis of patterns of description (Hymenoptera: Apidae, Bombini). Bulletin of The Natural History Museum (Entomology), 67(1), 79-152.

Wojtowski, F. (1963). Studies on heat and water economy in bumblebee nests (Bombinae). Zoologica Poloniae., 13(1), 19-36.

Zucchi, R. (1973). Aspectos bionômicos de Exomalopsis aureopilosa e Bombus atratus incluindo considerações sobre a evolução do comportamento social (Hymenoptera, Apoidea). Tese de Doutoramento da Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto. Ribeirão Preto, Brasil: Universidade de São Paulo.

Zuluaga, J. (2011). Evaluación de la actividad polinizadora de Bombus atratus (Hymenoptera: Apidae) en un cultivo de mora de castilla (Rubus glaucus). Tesis de Grado de la Facultad de Ciencias Básicas y Aplicadas. Bogotá, Colombia: Universidad Militar Nueva Granada.

Journal of Apicultural Science

The Journal of Research Institute of Horticulture and Apicultural Research Association

Journal Information

IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 0.75
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 1.007

CiteScore 2017: 0.92

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.345
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.461

Cited By


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 202 202 10
PDF Downloads 95 95 4