Male mating behaviour and mating systems of bees: an overview

Robert Paxton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

99 Citations (Scopus)


Considerable interspecific diversity exists among bees in the rendezvous sites where males search for females and in the behaviours employed by males in their efforts to secure matings. I present an evolutionary framework in which to interpret this variation, and highlight the importance for the framework of (i) the distribution of receptive ( typically immediate post-emergence) females, which ordinarily translates into the distribution of nests, and (ii) the density of competing males. Other than the highly polyandrous honey bees ( Apis), most female bees are thought to be monandrous, though genetic data with which to support this view are generally lacking. Given the opportunity, male bees are typically polygamous. I highlight intraspecific diversity in rendezvous site, male behaviour and mating system, which is in part predicted from the conceptual framework. Finally, I suggest that inbreeding may be far more widespread among bees than has hitherto been considered the case.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-156
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science

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