In the past, biologists learned that a the queen of a honeybee hive only mated with one drone, but newer research implies otherwise. According to a study recently published by PLOS One, in one hive, bees may have up to 50 different fathers. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports:
Bee-mating events can involve several thousand drones all gathering in areas about 20 metres above the ground in open fields, according to University of Sydney behavioural geneticist Benjamin Oldroyd.
Once mature, a young queen bee will leave her mother’s hive and may visit several different “drone congregation areas” on different days, possibly mating with about 50 drones.
“She will fly to this place at about two o’clock in the afternoon, mate with, let’s just say, a large number of males, 30, 50 … and she’ll go home again about 15-10 minutes later, really quick,” [behavioural geneticist] Professor Oldroyd said.
The study abstract notes, “These results alter our understanding of reproductive behavior in honey bees, raising questions about the evolutionary implications of this phenomenon.”
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