Wing venation teratology in Apis mellifera L.


Honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) wing venation is quite distinctive and the resulting pattern is currently used in subspecies discrimination. In recent years the forewings of worker bees sampled in A. m. mellifera, A. m. ligustica, A. m. carnica, and hybrid colonies were examined and various abnormalities - due to the presence of both supernumerary and defective veins - were observed. The supernumerary veins were considered as present only if an evident vein length could be detected, while slight thickenings were ignored. Most colonies did not show any teratology in wing venation, while a few ones provided several workers with abnormal wings; in these cases, some individuals showed two or more abnormalities. Spurs of various length protruding from the standard veins were the most frequent abnormalities observed; among them an adventitious distal abscissa of the 2rs-m crossvein, a spur protruding from the 2nd abscissa of Rs vein into the 1st submarginal cell, and the extension of the Rs vein beyond the distal end of the marginal cell were rather common. In some cases two opposed spurs tended to join or a single vein branched, thus defining an open or even closed supernumerary cell. In defective veins the missing stretch varied considerably in length so that in a few cases two contiguous cells merged more or less completely. Wing venation teratology should be taken into account when using the wing venation pattern for a morphometric distinction of honey bee subspecies, and data from abnormal wings should not be acquired, especially if automated procedures are used.


forewing; honey bee; morphometry; supernumerary cells; wing veins

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