Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 237–246 | Cite as

Return of Drones: Flight Experience Improves Returning Performance in Honeybee Drones

  • Shinya Hayashi
  • Sayed Ibrahim Farkhary
  • Mamoru Takata
  • Toshiyuki Satoh
  • Satoshi KoyamaEmail author


The effect of experience on the behavior of worker bees has been extensively investigated; however, few such studies have been conducted on male bees. Honeybee (Apis mellifera) males (drones), unlike the males of other social hymenopterans, return to their nest after performing a mating flight and have, therefore, an opportunity to learn from their experiences. This provides a chance to understand the significance of experience in social hymenopteran males. Here, we investigated whether experience improves the returning performance in drones (rate and time of return to the hive). We compared the returning performance of “Experienced” drones that were allowed to fly freely and thus had an opportunity to learn the position of the hive before the experiment with “Naive” drones that were not allowed to fly and therefore, had no opportunity to learn. We found that Experienced drones returned to the hive after a displacement, whereas Naive drones did not. Furthermore, time to return decreased with the age of drones. These results suggest that flight experience improves the returning performance, which should increase the possibility of mating success and overall colony fitness.


Honeybee drone social hymenoptera age flight experience 



We thank Emeritus Prof. Yasuhisa Kunimi, Dr. Madoka Nakai, and Dr. Maki Inoue, Faculty of Agriculture, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, for providing helpful comments and suggestions for this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shinya Hayashi
    • 1
  • Sayed Ibrahim Farkhary
    • 2
    • 3
  • Mamoru Takata
    • 3
  • Toshiyuki Satoh
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Satoshi Koyama
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.The United Graduate School of AgricultureTokyo University of Agriculture and TechnologyTokyoJapan
  2. 2.The United Graduate School of Veterinary ScienceGifu UniversityGifuJapan
  3. 3.Faculty of AgricultureTokyo University of Agriculture and TechnologyTokyoJapan
  4. 4.Institute of AgricultureTokyo University of Agriculture and TechnologyTokyoJapan

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