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Science 317 (5836): 362-364

Copyright © 2007 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Genetic Diversity in Honey Bee Colonies Enhances Productivity and Fitness

Heather R. Mattila*, and Thomas D. Seeley

Abstract: Honey bee queens mate with many males, creating numerous patrilines within colonies that are genetically distinct. The effects of genetic diversity on colony productivity and long-term fitness are unknown. We show that swarms from genetically diverse colonies (15 patrilines per colony) founded new colonies faster than swarms from genetically uniform colonies (1 patriline per colony). Accumulated differences in foraging rates, food storage, and population growth led to impressive boosts in the fitness (i.e., drone production and winter survival) of genetically diverse colonies. These results further our understanding of the origins of polyandry in honey bees and its benefits for colony performance.

Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: hrm24{at}

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