Potential increase in mating frequency of queens in feral colonies of Bombus terrestris introduced into Japan.
With the exception of several species, bumblebees are monandrous. We examined mating frequency in feral colonies of the introduced bumblebee Bombus terrestris in Japan. Using microsatellite markers, genotyping of sperm DNA stored in the spermatheca of nine queens detected multiple insemination paternities in one queen; the others were singly mated. The average effective paternity frequency estimated from the genotypes of queens and workers was 1.23; that estimated from the workers' genotype alone was 2.12. These values were greater than those of laboratory-reared colonies in the native ranges of B. terrestris. The genotypes of one or two workers did not match those of their queens or showed paternities different from those of their nestmates; this may have arisen from either queen takeover or drifting of workers. These alien workers were responsible for the heterogeneous genotype distribution within each B. terrestris colony, resulting in higher estimates of paternity frequency than of insemination frequency. The high mating frequency of introduced B. terrestris may have occurred by artificial selection through mass breeding for commercialization. Moreover, polyandrous queens may be selectively advantageous, because reproduction by such queens is less likely to be disturbed by interspecific mating than that by monandrous queens.